Royal British Legion to ‘stop selling poppies in the EU due to Brexit’


he Royal British Legion will no longer sell poppies in the European Union due to red tape following Brexit according to reports.

The charity, which provides support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces is said to have sent an email to supporters stating it will “need to cease sales to customers in countries in the EU” for the foreseeable future until legislation surrounding Brexit is reviewed.

The i newspaper reported that it could not justify the expense, including customs charges, to send poppies overseas following Britain’s departure from the EU’s customs union on January 1.

Poppies are worn in October and November for Armistice Day, and the charity sells them to raise money for members of the armed forces, veterans and their families.

It also sells a range of poppy jewellery, clothing and accessories through its online Poppy Shop.

The i  said it has seen a copy of the email sent to supporters.

A Government spokeswoman told PA: “We are focused on supporting UK organisations as they adjust to our new trading relationship with the EU.

“The work of The Royal British Legion and the money they raise through their annual poppy appeal is incredibly important and we will engage with them to ensure they get the support they need to operate in the EU.”

Businesses have faced tough new rules following Britain’s severing of ties with the EU.

Retailers, fishermen and fresh food companies have complained the new measures are delaying deliveries and increasing their costs due to the extra customs checks and paperwork.

London and Brussels are currently locked in a battle over the Northern Ireland Protocol following the unilateral action taken by the British government earlier this year to apply an extension to a transition period.

The action was aimed to try and help goods move more easily between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK after supermarkets’ shelves in Northern Ireland were stripped bare due to exporting and importing problems in early 2021.

The move was criticised by Brussels and on Thursday, the UK formally requested an extension, allowing sausages, burgers and mince to continue being sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland until September 30.

The European Commission is currently assessing the request.

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Ann Marie Smith’s former friend tells disability royal commission of caring young woman who loved to laugh



A childhood friend of Ann Marie Smith has remembered the Adelaide woman as a caring person who loved to laugh and was cherished by her family.

Senior counsel assisting Kate Eastman SC read out a letter from a woman only identified as “Brooke” at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability sitting in Adelaide today.

Ms Smith, who was known as Annie, died last year from severe septic shock, organ failure, severe pressure sores, malnutrition and issues connected with her cerebral palsy.

Police believe the 54-year-old may have spent up to a year confined to a cane chair before she died in hospital.

Her carer has been charged with manslaughter.

Brooke first met Ms Smith when they were nine and seven respectively.

“Sometimes she would start laughing for no apparent reason. I may have tripped or done something silly and off she would go.”

Photographs of a younger Ms Smith were shared with the commissioners.

“I remember she would get up and jig along whenever an ABBA song came on,” Brooke wrote.

“She was always dressed in nice clothes and she used to get her hair done in a salon.”

But the inquiry heard she increasingly shut herself off from the outside world.

After decades of sharing special events, the friends had a falling out and did not speak in the year before Ms Smith died.

“I know that things would have been different if I had gone around to see her,” Brooke wrote.

The statement was read as the inquiry turned its focus to authorities’ response to Ms Smith’s death last April.

Also today, South Australia’s Department of Human Services admitted it did not do enough to investigate an anonymous letter threatening violence against a group home resident.

The royal commission heard the letter threatened the man might be poisoned or fall down stairs, but his family was told to move on when they raised concerns.

The department’s internal audit manager, Tony Allwood, admitted the reports it did on the issue were defective.

“Yes, yes,” Mr Allwood agreed.

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Sydney news: Free Royal Easter Show public transport scrapped from ticket price, police officer injured while wrestling wanted man


Here’s what you need to know this morning.

Royal Easter Show transport

Free public transport to this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show has been removed from the ticket price and commuters are being told car parking will likely reach capacity.

The show’s organisers said free transport could not be included in ticket prices in order to meet contact tracing requirements for the NSW Government.

The show was one of the first major events cancelled because of the pandemic in 2020, but this year COVID-safe plans will be in place, showing when a pavilion is at, or near, capacity.

The Sydney show attracts 850,000 visitors on average each year, and will run from April 1 to 12.

Police officer assaulted

A Sydney police officer has suffered a concussion after he was hit in the head numerous times while approaching a man wanted for breach of bail.

At around 1:20pm yesterday, officers noticed a 47-year-old man acting suspiciously in the inner west suburb of Newtown.

Police approached and as they began to speak to the man, he allegedly punched the officer in the head and attempted to flee.

The man elbowed the officer in the head on numerous occasions as they wrestled, before breaking free.

He was later found at the rear of a house in Petersham and was arrested after negotiations with the officers.

Hard won dream fulfilled

Parastoo says her scholarship was a “miracle”.(

ABC News: Mridula Amin

)

It was the hope of educating his children that made Parastoo Bahrami’s father pile his family of eight into a rickety fishing boat and sputter across the Timor Sea.

Having lived in an Indonesian refugee camp for 11 years as Afghan refugees, they made their final attempt to reach Australia in 2012.

Under the Taliban’s hard-line regime, her father, Said, was concerned women’s rights would be limited and that his children would not be educated.

It’s a dream that’s been fulfilled as 24-year-old Parastoo begins her final year in a Masters of Teaching (Primary) at Western Sydney University (WSU).

Inquiry into compulsory acquisitions

A sign outside a house reads is a car park worth nine family homes
The Jannali homes were saved after another location was found.(

ABC News: Josh Bavas

)

The NSW Greens have secured a parliamentary inquiry into how the government goes about forcibly acquiring land for major infrastructure projects following a number of controversial acquisitions.

Last month, nine families in the Sydney suburb of Jannali were told, without any prior consultation, their homes would be demolished to make way for a commuter car park.

Greens NSW transport and infrastructure spokesperson Abigail Boyd said this was not an isolated incident.

“We’re seeing it time and time again as transport and infrastructure projects under this Liberal-National government tear through communities,” she said.

Ms Boyd, who is also the chair of the transport and customer service committee, said the public needs to be assured projects are being designed in the most compassionate way possible and don’t leave people struggling to find new housing.

Geo-targeting missing persons

A group of people at a computer next to sign saying missing persons registry.
Mobile text messages can now be sent to specific areas to find at-risk missing people.(

Supplied: NSW Police

)

NSW Police can now use geographically targeted mobile text messages to send messages about a missing person where there are serious concerns for their safety.

After consultation with the Missing Persons Registry, NSW Police can send text messages to a defined area with a brief description of the missing person, and instructions on how to report a sighting.

Police hope to reduce the number of longer term missing persons cases using the system, said Detective Inspector Glen Browne, the registry coordinator.

“Examples of missing persons considered high-risk include people living with dementia who may wander from their homes, children with developmental delays who are separated from their family or carers, and young children who go missing in large crowds,” he said.

Letter advocates reduced childcare costs

Rosie Batty smiles warmly
Rosie Batty signed the letter calling for lower childcare costs.(

AAP: Lukas Coch

)

An open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to address Australia’s gender crisis has been published in major newspapers this morning to coincide with International Women’s Day this week.

The letter was signed by 31 of the nation’s high profile women including Lucy Turnbull, Rosie Batty and Ita Buttrose, who want the next Federal Budget to make women’s lives easier.

The group is advocating for childcare costs to be made more accessible so more women can work.

The quality of childcare was also a key point with the letter requesting the government make a commitment to early learning reforms.

Refurbish airport control tower

Photo from plane window of one of the wingtips with the control tower and a radar in the distance.
The heritage listed tower needs refurbishing.(

ABC News: Giulio Saggin

)

A Parliamentary Committee will scrutinise a $24.8 million proposal to refurbish the control tower at Sydney Airport.

Airservices Australia is seeking permission to replace the current tower technology that air traffic controllers use with an new automated system.

The inquiry will examine the need for the tower to undergo a series of mechanical, structural and electrical upgrades.

The tower was heritage listed in 2016, making changes to the building structure complex.

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Bid to tackle money laundering risks stymied by senior Crown manager, royal commission hears


Crown Resorts’ own anti-money laundering manager was told “casinos had always been that way” when he tried to raise concerns about groups of high-roller gamblers, and was stymied when he tried to hire more team members, an inquiry has heard.

Nick Stokes, the head of Crown’s Financial Crime arm, told the Victorian Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence that when he started with the company in November 2019, he quickly realised there were several risks associated with the company’s junket operations.

A NSW inquiry into Crown last year found that junket operators were often backed by organised crime syndicates, including triad-controlled drug trafficking and money laundering groups.

Mr Stokes said he tried to raise money-laundering risks and prevention strategies with his manager, Crown’s legal boss Joshua Preston, after he started.

“He would hear me out and he would listen to my views, but on a number of occasions he was of the view that ‘casinos had always been that way and that a casino’s not a bank, and the same rules didn’t quite apply’,” Mr Stokes told the Victorian royal commission.

Mr Stokes, who came to Crown with decades of financial crime experience in the banking sector, said when he prepared a paper for Mr Preston on the risk of junkets, Mr Preston didn’t pass it on to other senior staff members.

When he asked to increase the “under-resourced” anti-money laundering team at Crown Resorts, which consisted of three staff members, he was rebuffed by Mr Preston, he said.

Mr Preston left Crown late last year, after a damning appearance at the NSW Bergin inquiry in which he said he was unaware whether junket operators were linked to organised crime.

Mr Stokes said in September last year that attitudes changed among Crown management, and that he now had 20 anti-money laundering staff.

“I’ve seen that attitude change quite considerably to the point where the business now is very proactive in taking on those first-line responsibilities … we’re looking to build the team further, ” he said.

“So that’s very pleasing for me ’cause it’s been 18 months [since starting at Crown] and I hope to show something for 18 months.”

Earlier, the royal commission heard Crown Resorts “does not intend” to allow any high rollers associated with international junket tour groups to gamble at its Australian casinos in the future, an inquiry has heard.

Crown made the commitment in a letter sent to the Victorian royal commission examining whether the company was fit to hold a casino licence in the state. 

The inquiry is being held following allegations to a New South Wales inquiry that the junket operators were backed by organized crime syndicates, including triad-controlled drug trafficking and money laundering groups.

Counsel assisting the royal commission Penny Neskovcin QC said Crown showed wilful blindness to the activities.

“We’ll be submitting this is illustrative of Crown doing the bare minimum, and it will be illustrative of what we will call or describe as a culture of not looking too hard,” she said.

Ms Neskovcin said while previous statements from Crown about whether it would ban junket groups from its casinos had been “equivocal”, last night the commission received a letter from Crown about its future intentions.

“Each of Crown Resorts Limited and Crown Melbourne Limited confirms it has ceased dealing with international junket operators and it has ceased dealings with junket tour operators,” Ms Neskovcin said the letter stated.

“It does not intend to deal with international junket operators in the future, whether by staff based in Australia or otherwise, and does not intend to deal with junket tour operators in the future,” she said the letter went on to say.

In November 2020, Crown committed to stop relationships with all junket operators but left the door open to recommencing the relationships if gaming regulators allowed it.

In April this year, the Victorian Gambling regulator temporarily banned Crown from bringing junket tour groups to Australia.

Last week, Crown agreed with the NSW gaming regulator that it wouldn’t bring international junkets to its proposed casino at Barangaroo.

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Crown Resorts manager threatened Victorian gaming regulator, royal commission told


Managers at Crown Resorts misled, threatened and pushed back against Victoria’s gaming regulator when it tried to get the company to tighten anti-money laundering protocols at its Melbourne casino, at one stage even threatening to call the state’s Gaming Minister, an inquiry has heard.

The allegations were aired on the second day of the Victorian royal commission investigating the suitability of Crown Melbourne Limited to hold a casino licence.

The commission was called in response to the Bergin Inquiry in New South Wales, which found Crown Resorts was unsuitable to operate a new Sydney casino at Barangaroo due to allegations of money laundering and links to international criminal syndicates.

Jason Cremona, the manager of the audit team with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), told the inquiry that in July 2018, Crown Melbourne Ltd was told it had until June the following year to start recording the names and transactions of all high-roller gamblers.

The inquiry heard that players from Asia who came to Crown on junket tours organised through third-party operators were not required to disclose how much they were spending at the casino as individuals — just as a group.

The VCGLR was concerned this left the casino open to being used for money laundering activities, as authorities could not track the money spent and collected by individual players.

Mr Cremona said from July 2018 until June 2019, Crown management pushed back against the recommendation to change the protocol, but repeatedly said it was meeting representatives from the federal financial security agency AUSTRAC about it.

However, when Mr Cremona approached representatives from AUSTRAC in 2018 and again in May 2019, the agency told him they had not been working with Crown to address that specific protocol, but rather broader anti-money laundering policy.

“At that stage, the alarm bells were ringing relatively loudly that they [Crown] were failing to address the recommendation,” Mr Cremona told the commission.

Mr Cremona said his concerns prompted him to send a letter to Crown Resorts chief legal officer Joshua Preston in May 2019, that they were at risk of not complying with the recommended protocol and could be directed to take “remedial action”.

The letter said Crown appeared “reluctant” to review its policy and to work with AUSTRAC to change it.

Mr Cremona told the commission he then received an “aggressive” phone call from Michelle Fielding, a manager with Crown’s compliance section, saying Crown had been misrepresented and that Josh [Preston] was “furious” and would most probably “call the Minister”.

“I just think the tone was unexpected,” Mr Cremona told the commission.

“I’ve had many engagements with Michelle, many discussions with Michelle across my 20 years in gambling regulation, and I was clearly taken aback by the tone, the aggressive nature.”

He said he could not recall Crown ever threatening to call the Minister before, and agreed with Commissioner Ray Finkelstein that they were pressuring him to drop the matter.

“And threatening you for pushing it?” Commissioner Finkelstein asked Mr Cremona.

“Correct,” he replied.

The Victorian Gaming Minister at the time was MP Marlene Kairouz, who last year resigned from cabinet over branch-stacking allegations.

The commission did not hear any evidence that a call was ever made.

Mr Cremona said the only reason Crown would have been unwilling to comply with the recommendation and find out who the individual junket players were, was because the company would have lost business.

“It’s the only reason isn’t it?” Commissioner Finkelstein asked Mr Cremona.

“I believe so, Commissioner,” he said.

When the June 2019 deadline for meeting the recommendation came, Mr Cremona said the VCGLR decided to say that Crown Melbourne had met the target, even though the regulator had serious concerns about the lack of compliance.

When asked why he did not stick to his guns, Mr Cremona said he believed it would be quicker if the VCGLR took its own action to change the regulations, rather than rely on Crown.

He told the commission they were changed at a later date.

Under questioning from Crown’s lawyer, Mr Cremona agreed that Crown had complied with 19 other recommendations that were made by the VCGLR in 2018.

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Prince Harry unleashes on Royal Family


Prince Harry unleashes on Royal Family

Prince Harry has unleashed another scathing attack on the Royal Family accusing it of neglect and silence during hard times in his life.

In an interview with his friend Oprah Winfrey on his new Apple TV series, Prince Harry claims he and his wife Meghan Markle felt abandoned, a major factor in their move to California.

He added he felt trapped by his family and the toxic environment he perceived he was living in.

The comments have been received with criticism from fans of the Royal Family who have expressed their unhappiness and anger towards the continued bashing by Harry.

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Bill Bailey to perform En Route To Normal at Canberra Royal Theatre




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Bill Bailey to perform En Route To Normal at Canberra Royal Theatre
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Harry accuses royal family of ‘total neglect’ and says he will not be bullied


he Duke of Sussex has accused the royal family of “total neglect” in his mental health documentary series with Oprah Winfrey and said he will not be bullied.

During the first three episodes of Apple TV’s The Me You Can’t See, Harry addressed traumatic memories from his childhood, including the death of his mother Diana Princess of Wales, and harassment on social media of he and his wife Meghan.

“Every single ask, request, warning, whatever it is, to stop just got met with total silence or total neglect,” he told Winfrey, referring to his attempts to get assistance from his family with the attacks levelled at the Sussexes online.

“We spent four years trying to make it work. We did everything that we possibly could to stay there and carry on doing the role and doing the job.”

The duke also told Winfrey his family did not speak about Diana’s death and expected him to just deal with the resulting press attention and mental distress.

The series comes after Harry earlier in May appeared to suggest his father, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had failed as parents.

Speaking on the Armchair Expert podcast, the duke said he wanted to “break the cycle” of “genetic pain and suffering” for the sake of his own children.

He said of Charles: “He’s treated me the way he was treated, so how can I change that for my own kids?”

He picked up the theme with Winfrey, telling her in the series released on Friday: “My father used to say to me when I was younger, he used to say to both William and I, ‘Well it was like that for me so it’s going to be like that for you.’”

“That doesn’t make sense. Just because you suffered doesn’t mean that your kids have to suffer, in fact quite the opposite – if you suffered, do everything you can to make sure that whatever negative experiences you had, that you can make it right for your kids,” he said.

The now 36-year-old said his family told him to “play the game” and life would improve.

But he objected, telling Winfrey: “I’ve got a hell of a lot of my mum in me.

“The only way to free yourself and break out is to tell the truth.”

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Fresh warnings over Amazon, Royal Mail and Hermes scams targeting customers


There has been fresh warnings over scams relating to Amazon, Royal Mail and the DVLA.

Fraudsters are also passing themselves off as workers from Hermes, DPD, PayPal, and banks, according to warnings.

Cruel fraudsters are attempting to steal victims’ cash as Brits remain working from home, with anxieties high, Birmingham Live reports.

An ITV documentary Tonight, which aired on Thursday evening, shed light on the spate of scams and rise of vile fraudsters attempting to swindle unwitting victims across the country.

The Royal Mail scam has, by now, been well publicised.

But police forces are still urging people to exercise caution and stay vigilant amid a worrying rise in fraudulent text messages and emails.



The most popular scams
The most popular scams in the UK

A West Midlands Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Sam Doninton said: “I have had a large number of residents mention scams and/or spam texts that they have been receiving as a real problem.”

The scams have left some Birmingham residents losing their entire life savings – including one graduate from the city who fell foul to Royal Mail scammers.

Research listed below also shows Hermes, DVLA and Amazon scams are massively rising, as well as scams relating to banking giants in the UK.



Royal Mail stock photo
The Royal Mail scam has, by now, been well publicised (file photo)

In March, The Mirror reported on how millions of people have been sent text messages from scammers posing as Royal Mail in an attempt to intercept their bank details.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said the messages claim a parcel is awaiting delivery but a “settlement” must first be paid.



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The messages include a link to a fraudulent Royal Mail website which asks the recipient to enter their bank details to release their parcel.

The CTSI warned that the rise in online shopping means more people are likely to be waiting for parcels and deliveries, making them more vulnerable to this kind of fraud.



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