A woman disguised herself as a teenage boy to sexually assault girls after grooming them online.
Gemma Watts posed as 16-year-old “Jake Waton” on social media and swapped intimate photos with victims before meeting at locations across England.
Watts, 21, of Enfield, pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court to sexual offences involving four girls and was jailed for eight years.
Police believe she may have assaulted up to 50 victims in total.
Scotland Yard said Watts had used her own picture on Snapchat and Instagram accounts as “Jake” and targeted girls aged 14 to 16 by liking their profiles.
She used teenage slang, sent flattering messages and shared intimate photographs before travelling to meet them in person.
Her disguise included tying her hair back in a bun and wearing a baseball cap, jogging bottoms and a hoodie.
Police said all of her victims believed they were in a relationship with a teenage boy until officers revealed Watts was actually an adult woman.
She was so convincing she even spent time as “Jake” with some of the girls’ parents.
The offences she has admitted relate to a 14-year-old from Hampshire and three 15-year-olds from Surrey, Plymouth and the West Midlands.
Det Con Phillipa Kenwright said the victims “all believed they were in a relationship with a male” and had been “completely taken in” by Watts.
She added: “It’s been life-changing for all of the victims involved.”
The officer said she believed Watts could have duped “20 to 50” victims in total.
A doctor in Hampshire first raised concerns to police in March 2018 after a young patient revealed she was in a relationship with an older boy.
In July that year Watts admitted to Met officers she had been sexually active as “Jake” with the first three victims.
She was released under investigation and arrested again in October 2018 by British Transport Police who found her on a train with a fourth victim.
Officers initially thought Watts was a 16-year-old boy and were taking her home to London before they realised her true identity.
In November 2019, Watts pleaded guilty to one count of assault by penetration, three counts of meeting a child following sexual grooming and three counts of sexual assault.
Ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” and so is protected in law, a tribunal has ruled for the first time.
The case was brought by vegan Jordi Casamitjana, who claims he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports because of his ethical veganism.
His former employer says he was dismissed for gross misconduct.
The judge ruled ethical veganism should fall under the Equality Act 2010 but is yet to rule on Mr Casamitjana’s dismissal.
Mr Casamitjana, 55, who lives in London, said he was “extremely happy” with the ruling – which is ongoing – adding that he hopes fellow vegans “will benefit”.
The tribunal centres on his claim that he was sacked by the animal welfare charity League Against Cruel Sports after disclosing it invested pension funds in firms involved in animal testing.
Mr Casamitjana says when he drew his bosses’ attention to the pension fund investments, they did nothing so he informed colleagues and was sacked as a result.
The League Against Cruel Sports says it is “factually wrong” to link Mr Casamitjana’s dismissal to his veganism. The charity did not contest that ethical veganism should be protected.
All vegans eat a plant-based diet, but ethical vegans try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation.
For instance they avoid wearing or buying clothing made from wool or leather, or toiletries from companies that carry out animal testing.
The tribunal’s ruling means ethical vegans are entitled to protection from discrimination.
“Religion or belief” is one of nine “protected characteristics” covered by the Equality Act 2010.
The judge Robin Postle ruled that ethical veganism qualifies as a philosophical belief, after satisfying several tests – including that it is worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others.
At the tribunal in Norwich on Friday, the judge said in his ruling that ethical veganism was “important” and “worthy” of respect in a democratic society.
He said: “I am satisfied overwhelmingly that ethical veganism does constitute a philosophical belief.”
Ruling ‘will inspire vegans’
Speaking to the BBC outside the tribunal, Mr Casamitjana said he was “extremely happy”.
“I’m really, really satisfied and I hope all the vegans out there that have been supporting me – there have been many helping me in my crowdfunding – I hope they now feel their little donation has been properly used and all the vegans will benefit.”
He added: “Veganism is a philosophical belief and when you look at my life and anybody else’s life who is an ethical vegan, you will see it.
“This is a positive belief, it’s not a negative belief. And therefore a positive belief is bound to be protected.”
He added that he is “passionate” about veganism, which “gives you hope”. Mr Casamitjana also said he was feeling “optimistic” for the ruling on his dismissal – which is due later.
Mr Casamitjana describes himself as an ethical vegan and campaigns to get his message to others.
His beliefs affect much of his everyday life. He will, for instance, walk rather than take a bus to avoid accidental crashes with insects or birds.
Peter Daly, the solicitor for Mr Casamitjana, said the ramifications of this judgement for companies that employ vegan staff are “potentially significant”.
He said any abuse directed at ethical vegans “might be seen to be harassment in the same way a racist or sexist slur might be discriminatory action”.
Rhys Wyborn, acting for the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Although an interesting point of law, this hearing was preparation for the real crux of the matter: why Jordi Casamitjana was dismissed.
“In view of its animal welfare value, the League did not contest the issue of whether ethical veganism itself should be a protected belief, with the League maintaining that it’s irrelevant to the core reason for the dismissal.”
The tribunal will now consider whether Mr Casamitjana was treated less favourably because of his ethical veganism belief.
Exeter boss Rob Baxter does not want the salary cap row to detract from his side’s preparation for their Premiership meeting with Saracens.
Chiefs lost the last two Premiership finals to Saracens, who have since been docked 35 points for breaching the salary cap over the past three seasons.
Sunday’s game is the first time the two have met since June’s final.
“What I don’t want is guys stewing or overthinking the game and burning up their nervous energy now,” Baxter said.
“But I think come the end of the week it’s probably the right thing. If there’s anything that particularly needles you or aggravates you or motivates you – Saracens will use them all in their personal motivation – there’s nothing wrong with our lads using it in their personal motivation as well.”
Exeter were one of the clubs most aggrieved as a result of Saracens’ transgressions – chief executive Tony Rowe called for the champions to be relegated, while in the aftermath Baxter said Saracens had beaten Exeter in two finals “unfairly”.
“It was interesting before and it’s even more interesting now,” Baxter added to BBC Sport about Sunday’s game.
“We’re in that period in the run up to this game where we’ve got to lock down and really focus on ourselves.
“We do that really well in most other games and we’ve got to make sure that’s what we do this week, we’ve got to lock down and focus on ourselves.”
But the Exeter boss hopes the Sandy Park crowd are respectful of their opponents as they look to beat Saracens for a fourth successive time at home.
“For the sake of what’s good in rugby I would like to think our supporters are civil and welcoming to the Saracens supporters, but I kind of know they will be,” Baxter added.
“Over the years the amount of emails and letters I’ve received from visiting supporters who’ve dropped something into the club to say what a fantastic day they’ve had – and most of them have lost, so they’re not saying it because they’ve come here and won – they’ve said they’ve enjoyed coming to a proper rugby club and mingling with proper rugby fans.
“Those part of things should never change. That should be what rugby’s about. That’s probably why we as a club are a little aggravated by what the salary cap investigation has pointed out because that’s not what rugby’s about.”
Newcastle pair Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron could be fit to return after missing last week’s defeat at Burnley.
Allan Saint-Maximin, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, Matt Ritchie and Ki Sung-Yeung are all still absent.
Crystal Palace’s defensive injury crisis could deepen, with Jairo Riedewald suffering from a hip problem.
Gary Cahill, Jeffrey Schlupp, Patrick van Aanholt and Joel Ward are all out injured, while Mamadou Sakho is serving the final game of a three-game ban.
Ex-Newcastle loanee Andros Townsend is also out for the Eagles.
MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES
Martin Fisher: If it’s a pre-Christmas goal feast you’re looking for then you might want to give this one a miss – just five scored in the last five meetings, and two of those were penalties!
This season, only Watford have scored fewer than Newcastle and Palace but the latter two sides have fared much better in other aspects of the game. meaning both are well clear of the relegation picture.
A win could potentially lift Roy Hodgson’s men as high as sixth, while even the biggest doubter of Steve Bruce should note that Newcastle are six points better off than at the same stage last season under the much revered Rafa Benitez.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce: “It’s always important that your home form stacks up and we haven’t lost since the first game of the season. We’ve given ourselves a good opportunity going into the Christmas period.
“I’ve got wonderful respect for Roy Hodgson. He’s been there, done it and still has that same enthusiasm and drive. If you’ve still got it at that age, why not use it? Year in, year out he does fantastically well and that’s why he’s still going.”
Newcastle’s home form remains a real strength – they have only lost one league game at St James’ Park all season.
- The last five league meetings have produced just five goals, three for Newcastle and two for Crystal Palace.
- Palace have won only three of their 18 league away matches against Newcastle (D4, L11).
- Newcastle are unbeaten in seven home league matches since an opening weekend defeat by Arsenal (W3, D4).
- The Magpies have taken 14 points from their past eight league games, the sixth-highest total over that period.
- They are six points better off than at this stage of last season and have their highest tally after 17 games since 2014-15.
- The Magpies have scored 17 league goals – only Palace and bottom side Watford have fewer.
- Steve Bruce managed Crystal Palace between May and November 2001.
- Crystal Palace are unbeaten in four league games (W2, D2), having only taken a point from their previous five.
- The Eagles have conceded only once in 365 minutes.
- Palace are unbeaten in eight matches this season against the sides currently in the bottom half of the table (W5, D3), conceding only twice.
- They have lost only one of their past five away fixtures.
- Their Premier League matches this season have produced just 34 goals, the fewest in the division.
- Only Manchester City and Liverpool have won more Premier League away games in 2019 than Palace’s tally of nine.
- Roy Hodgson has never lost against a side managed by Steve Bruce (W3, D4).
Southampton midfielder Stuart Armstrong should come back into contention after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Yan Valery is again unavailable following a virus, while Sofiane Boufal, who is still being troubled by a toe problem, will be monitored.
West Ham remain without Manuel Lanzini, Lukasz Fabianski and Jack Wilshere.
Aaron Cresswell was forced off against Arsenal and Andriy Yarmolenko missed that game with a back problem, but both have since trained and may feature.
MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES
Jonathan Pearce: This is hugely significant. If Southampton win their third home relegation six-pointer in a row, they’ll be back on track for survival.
It was a brave decision to stick with Ralph Hasenhuttl after the 9-0 defeat by Leicester. It looks like it is paying off. He used the international break to re-evaluate his tactics, take a deep look at himself and his team look far more cohesive.
West Ham are falling apart. Seven defeats in nine. I was there for the surrender against Arsenal, commentating on Radio 5 live. Manuel Pellegrini seemed powerless. Another bad defeat could well see the owners use the 12-day gap before their next game to make a change.
Southampton seem to be rising from the mire. West Ham are plunging towards it.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl: “You must play differently than we did after being in the lead at Newcastle and this was the big topic in the week.
“We must make this step in our game development and then we don’t give points away when we are in the lead.
“We must focus on our way that we want to play, on our philosophy.”
West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini: “All of us know we need a result.
“I always think as a manager that the results of the team depends on the individual performance of a player. After that you can work a lot on tactical, physical and technical work but the players decide the games.
“Of course, when you have your important players not in their best moment, the results of the team will not be good.
“You must find why they are not in that moment and try to work with them and give them confidence and I hope that most of them will return as soon as possible to their normal performance.”
It just feels like Manuel Pellegrini is an empty tube of toothpaste – they are just squeezing the last bits out of him at the moment, and it won’t be long until he is done.
While West Ham slide down the table, Saints have been heading in the opposite direction with a run of seven points from their past four games.
- West Ham have won 16 Premier League games versus Southampton, more than against any other side.
- Saints have lost four of the past five top-flight encounters – having been beaten in just three of the previous 12 (W5, D4).
- The Hammers have not opened the scoring in 15 Premier League visits to Southampton since a 1-1 draw at The Dell in March 1995.
- Saints are hoping to claim a third successive league win at St Mary’s – which would be their best run at home since a four-match sequence at the end of the 2015-16 season.
- Since Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first game 12 months ago, Southampton have lost an unrivalled five Premier League fixtures in which they scored the opening goal.
- They have scored in 14 of their 16 league games this season, a tally bettered only by Liverpool, Manchester City and Wolves.
- Danny Ings could become the first Saints player to score in six successive top-flight appearances since James Beattie in 2003.
- Ings has already scored in five league defeats this season – the only Southampton player to score in more losses in a single Premier League campaign is Matt Le Tissier (seven defeats in 1992-93).
West Ham United
- The Hammers have lost seven of their last nine league matches and have five points fewer than at this stage last season.
- They have claimed 56.3% of their points away from home this season – the highest percentage in the top flight.
- West Ham have dropped 12 points from winning positions in 2019-20, equalling their total last season – only Aston Villa, with 13, have a worse record in the current campaign.
- The Londoners have lost just one of their seven Premier League games with Lukasz Fabianski starting in goal this season but have been beaten in seven of nine matches when the Pole hasn’t played.
- Manuel Pellegrini has lost only one of his eight Premier League matches as a manager against Southampton (W6, D1).
Tottenham are expected to again be without Erik Lamela and Michel Vorm because of hamstring and calf injuries respectively.
Long-term absentees Ben Davies and Hugo Lloris remain on the sidelines.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche says Ashley Barnes has a “strong chance” of playing following a groin problem that limited him to a cameo role on Tuesday.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson is definitely out, while Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood and Phil Bardsley are doubts.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Burnley manager Sean Dyche: “We look forward to what is a good opportunity to recover good form because we’ve had a couple of slips this week, although one was against Man City.
“There are some games coming we think we can definitely compete in.”
Tottenham did not really get going at Old Trafford in midweek but I am expecting them to be far better this time. If so, they should win pretty comfortably.
- Burnley won a top-flight game against Tottenham in February for only the second time in 44 years.
- That ended a run of nine games without a victory against Spurs in all competitions.
- Burnley’s most recent away victory at Tottenham came in a League Cup tie in 1983. Their last league victory at Spurs was in 1974.
- They could concede a goal in 10 consecutive league matches for the first time since a run of 17 games from August to December 2010.
- Jose Mourinho has faced Burnley at home more often without winning than he has against any other side in all competitions in his managerial career. His one match in charge of Chelsea and two at Manchester United against the Clarets have all been draws.
- Dele Alli has scored in three consecutive appearances in all competitions for the first time since March 2017.
- Alli is scoring a goal every 85 minutes under Mourinho in all competitions this season, compared to one every 374 minutes under Mauricio Pochettino.
- Their solitary victory in the past 27 league fixtures against established top-six opposition came against Spurs in February (D6, L19).
- They have won just three of their 28 Premier League games in London.
- Sean Dyche’s side have completed 38 sequences of 10 or more passes in open play this season – fewer than any other Premier League team and 150 fewer than Spurs have managed.
- Ashley Barnes has 15 Premier League goals in 2019, and Chris Wood 14 – no other Burnley player has more than three.
- No Burnley player has scored more than 15 top-flight goals in a calendar year since Peter Noble managed 17 in 1975. Leighton James scored 16 in 1974.
Unai Emery has been sacked as Arsenal manager after 18 months in charge.
The Spaniard, who previously led Paris St-Germain to the French league title and won three Europa Leagues with Sevilla, was appointed Gunners boss in May 2018, succeeding Arsene Wenger.
He has been replaced on a temporary basis by assistant and former Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg.
Arsenal said the decision had been “taken due to results and performances not being at the level required”.
The Gunners have not won in seven games and lost 2-1 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday.
It is their worst competitive run without a victory since February 1992, which was eight games under George Graham.
They are without a Premier League victory since 6 October and eight points off the top four.
Ljungberg took training on Friday and the Arsenal statement added: “We have full confidence in Freddie to take us forward.
“The search for a new head coach is under way and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete.”
On Wednesday, BBC Sport reported Arsenal had identified Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as a potential replacement for Emery.
Other names linked with the post include former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta, ex-Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) said Emery’s dismissal was “unfortunate but inevitable” and the “more difficult challenge is to recruit a suitable successor”.
It added: “We are far from certain that Arsenal has the right personnel to lead this process.
“The AST has long been advocating that the most important changes needed at Arsenal are in the boardroom where Arsenal need better governance.”
Arsenal finished fifth in 48-year-old Emery’s first season in charge at Emirates Stadium after he replaced Wenger.
They went into this season having spent more than £130m in the summer after signing winger Nicolas Pepe, centre-back David Luiz, left-back Kieran Tierney, striker Gabriel Martinelli and defender William Saliba, who will join next summer.
The club also brought in midfielder Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid.
They started this season with back-to-back victories against Newcastle and Burnley, but that run ended with defeat by Liverpool, before draws with north London rivals Tottenham and Watford followed.
Their last Premier League victory was a 1-0 win over Bournemouth.
On Saturday, they battled to a 2-2 draw – their sixth of the season – at home to Southampton, with Alexandre Lacazette scoring an injury-time equaliser.
Arsenal have conceded 19 goals in 13 top-flight games this season and former Gunners keeper Bob Wilson said the teams defensive statistics were “frightening”.
“The interesting thing is every successful side starts with the defence,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Look at Liverpool and them spending millions [£75m] on Virgil van Dijk, who has made their defence solid.
“They [Arsenal] are shipping goals and don’t seem to have any idea of the defensive structure.”
Emery is the third managerial dismissal in the English top flight this season, after Javi Gracia and Pochettino departed Watford and Tottenham respectively.
Arsenal’s last victory came against Vitoria Guimaraes in the Europa League on 24 October, in which they needed two late Pepe free-kicks to secure a 3-2 win.
|Emery’s record at Arsenal|
|Games||Wins||Draws||Losses||Clean sheets||Win %|
“I couldn’t focus on schoolwork because I was focused on surviving.”
Rapman is talking about his childhood growing up in South London ahead of the release of his debut film, Blue Story – a tale of friendship, love and postcode wars.
It follows the life of Timmy who lives in Lewisham but goes to school in Peckham – two areas that have a notorious rivalry.
Rapman – real name Andrew Onwubolu – tells Radio 1 Newsbeat: “That part of it was based on my life – it made my school experience very difficult.”
The film’s message is backed up by its soundtrack, with lyrics like: “I’m not trying to justify, I just want to show you what these young boys are fighting for.”
Rapman says he wants the audience to see past crime statistics and headlines about knife crime, to understand how a “good kid” can lose their way.
“I want people who see the film to learn that these kids are not all spawns of Satan.
“They didn’t come from child abuse or neglectful mothers. What kids go through in the school playground is so intense, it all starts there.”
He believes that more provisions should be put in place to support children who have problems at school, and mentoring should be given instead of “waiting until they’re 17, feeling alone and end up picking up a weapon.”
The rapper-turned-film-maker’s work first went viral in 2017 when his YouTube series, Shiro’s Story, amassed more than 20 million hits.
The three-part drama tells the story of a character whose world is turned upside down when he gets involved in drug dealing and violence, while coping with the news his best friend is the biological dad of the daughter he thought was his.
The story is told mainly through music, Rapman’s bars to be specific, and it got him noticed by Jay Z, who signed Rapman to his label RocNation in 2018.
After the success of Shiro’s Story, the rapper was able to start work on the film script he had been sitting on for a while. He worked with the BBC and Paramount Pictures to make Blue Story.
“My casting director went to all the top agencies to find actors but I also wanted to use raw talent.
“I put a casting call out on social media, I wanted new faces.”
One of those new faces was Stephen Odubola.
Stephen, 23, emailed Rapman after Shiro’s Story won an award, saying he would love to work with him – but got no reply.
A few months later, after trying his luck at the open audition, he was cast as the one of the lead roles in Blue Story.
Stephen tells Radio 1 Newsbeat: “I walked into that audition and didn’t think I would get it. There were so many people.
“I prepared so much, and now watching it back is like an out of body experience. Watching the greatness we have created.”
Rapman is clear that Blue Story, which also stars Top Boy’s Micheal Ward, is a film for everyone.
“Mothers, kids in gangs, kids who aren’t in gangs, politicians.
“It’s the most authentic journey you’re going to see.
“I love when I go to the screenings and see people who look like they’ve had no connection to that world – people who are upper class, wealthy, and are just curious.
“I’m hoping that everyone who can’t relate to that world, but understands human emotions, goes to watch it.”
Plans to redevelop the historical bell foundry where Big Ben was cast into a boutique hotel have been approved.
Whitechapel Bell Foundry started up in east London in 1570. The current site was sold to developers who proposed changing it into a hotel and workshop.
The plans were backed by the site’s former owners, but campaigners had called for the foundry to re-open.
Tower Hamlets Council’s development committee has approved the scheme by the chair’s deciding vote.
The foundry, which also made the Liberty Bell, which hangs in Philadelphia, is listed in the Guinness World Records as the oldest manufacturing firm in Britain.
It had been based on the site in Whitechapel Road since 1738, but in 2016 its owners announced the operation would move elsewhere in the UK due to a “downturn in orders”.
Whitechapel tower bells are now being cast by the Westley Group Ltd, near Stoke-on-Trent, while Whitechapel handbells are being cast in south London.
The proposals, submitted by Raycliff Whitechapel LLP, will see the refurbishment of part of the Grade II* listed foundry to create new workshops and a cafe, while an unlisted 1980s extension in the rear will be demolished and replaced with a 103-room hotel.
A council report on the application found the plans would provide “long-term public access through the site”.
Historic England said it would provide a “high degree” of heritage benefits.
However, there were about 780 objections to the scheme and one councillor told the development committee the plans would amount to “historical vandalism”.
The UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust (UKHBPT), which does not own the site but had proposed a plan to restart manufacturing at the foundry, said it was “deeply saddened” by the committee’s decision and was considering launching a judicial review.
Great Britain’s 200m world champion Dina Asher-Smith says she will support the Athletics Association, an athletes’ union formed in response to changes to the Diamond League programme.
American two-time Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor launched the body to “fight for athletes’ rights”.
“You know you always have my support! Let’s do this,” tweeted Asher-Smith.
The 200m and triple jump were two of four events cut from the regular 2020 Diamond League programme.
The 3,000m steeplechase and 200m will still feature at 10 of 15 Diamond meetings, while two will stage the discus and triple jump events.
None of the four will be included in the Diamond League final in Zurich in September.
Diamond League chairman and International Association of Athletics Federations president Lord Coe said the changes were intended “to create a faster-paced, more exciting global league that will be the showcase for our sport”.
However Taylor said “separating the events can only damage this sport we all love”.
“We will fight for athletes’ rights and ultimately demand a seat at the table and a say in how our sport is run and how the sport can grow and evolve without ripping out its core.”
He invited fellow athletes to email to register their interest and follow the organisation’s social media accounts.
Britain’s Adam Gemili, who expressed surprise at the Diamond League’s announcement on Wednesday, retweeted Taylor’s manifesto.
Athletes already have two voting positions on the 26-person IAAF Council with competitors at the recent World Championships in Doha balloted on who should represent them as part of the Athletes’ Commission.
French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie and New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams are among those elected.
“We are fully supportive,” an IAAF spokesperson told BBC Sport of the Athletics Association’s creation.
“The more athletes involved in the decisions made in the sport the better the sport will be.”