UK firms told 'set up in EU to avoid trade disruption'



Firms say they have been advised by officials to set up EU hubs, but the government says it is not policy.

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Sam Burgess told by Mitchell Hooke his NRL career was going to be ‘ruined’, court told


In November, Ms Burgess admitted to the court she and her father had made the choice to hand a 50-page affidavit to The Australian detailing alleged drug use and domestic violence by Mr Burgess.

Mr Burgess was in the witness box on Friday morning and told the court how, during the incident, Mr Hooke told him: “I’m going to make sure I ruin your career if it’s the last thing I do.”

Mitchell Hooke, father of Phoebe Burgess and father-in-law of former rugby league star Sam Burgess arrives at Moss Vale Local Court.Credit:James Brickwood

Mr Boulten said during his final submissions, “Mitch Hooke and Phoebe Burgess have tried to destroy my client’s career, this case is part of it, and it won’t stop here.

“It was done deliberately to cause damage to my client’s reputation. It is consistent with my client’s assertion that Mr Hooke said to him I’m going to get you and I’m going to make sure I destroy your career.”

During his time in the witness box, Mr Burgess admitted the pair did have a verbal altercation but said they were “five or six metres” apart from each other.

He labelled the incident a “little argument” but admitted he was upset and angry at the time.

The former Rabbitohs captain said he visited the property from 2pm to 4pm before Mr Hooke asked him to leave.

Mr Burgess said the argument kicked off as he began walking to his car, telling Mr Hooke: “Mitch, I think you are a bad person inside and out and that’s why Phoebe is the way she is.”

Mr Burgess said Mr Hooke then followed him out to the car to continue the argument.

“He shouted back, he said, ‘F— you, Sam,’ ” Mr Burgess said.

“I returned serve and said, ‘F— you, Mitch, you’re a piece of shit.’ ”

“He said, ‘Sam, nobody loves you. Your own family doesn’t love you. We love you and you’re throwing it all away.’ ”

The argument ended when Ms Burgess’ sister Harriet Hooke intervened and “ushered” her father inside.

Mr Burgess told the court he texted Ms Burgess after the argument to let her know he had left the property before she replied, “Don’t you ever message me again.”

She then sent a follow-up text shortly after that said, “Harriet witnessed that. You are a pig. You are an absolute low life. How dare you. We are done. At least people have now seen who you really are, you f—.”

Mr Burgess admitted to having had four schooners of Great Northern beer before the visit but said he was sober when he arrived at the property.

Mr Boulten asked Mr Burgess: “Would you regard yourself affected by alcohol?”

“None whatsoever,” Mr Burgess responded.

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Police prosecutor Jamie Palmer argued Mr Burgess blamed Mr Hooke for having a part in his failed marriage, which caused him to lash out and tell his father-in-law he was going to “get him” and “come after him”.

“That’s not true,” Mr Burgess said.

Ms Palmer also argued Mr Burgess was standing over Mr Hooke, pointing at him while shouting obscenities during the incident.

Mr Burgess agreed Mr Hooke did say, “So you are going to hit a 64-year-old man?” during the argument but said he simply laughed in response.

“I never raised my voice,” Mr Burgess said.

In her closing submissions, Ms Palmer argued Mr Hooke was a man used to dealing with heated interactions during his time in the businessman, but was left “shaken” after his interaction with Mr Burgess.

“This is not a man who is a wilting flower,” she said. “And yet he was concerned if he took a step backwards he would be hit.”

A judgment will be handed down at Moss Vale Local Court on February 5.

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Australian Open: Players told not to feed mice while in Covid quarantine


A Victorian MP said she “understands” mice have been fed by players in the quarantine hotel used for the Australian Open

Australian Open players have been told not to feed mice at the quarantine hotel in Melbourne after one player complained of rodents in her room.

Yulia Putintseva, the world number 28, swapped rooms after finding a mouse but said her new room is also infested.

The 26-year-old is among more than 70 players and their entourages confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days.

Victoria state police minister Lisa Neville “encouraged” players to “minimise interaction” with the mice.

“As I understand, there may have been some feeding going on,” Neville added, without giving further details.

“We will keep doing pest control if we need to, but hopefully that pest control work that was done this week will have fixed the problem.”

Neville also said 10 people in total who have flown to Melbourne for the tournament had now tested positive for coronavirus, with three new cases on Wednesday comprising two players and a support person.

Kazakhstan’s Putintseva – who was among the first players to complain about the hotel quarantine rules for the Grand Slam event – again used social media to post a video of a mouse in her room jumping out from behind a cupboard.

Putintseva says she has lost sleep because of the rodents scurrying around, and also expressed frustration about being unable to open a window in her room.

“We need fresh air to breathe,” she posted on Instagram.external-link

A total of four players, have now tested positive for the virus according to officials, but there has been confusion over the figures with several test results later reclassified by authorities as “viral shedding” from previous infections, meaning they are not contagious.

The row over quarantine rules and allowances afforded to travelling players compared to residents, has cast huge controversy over the year’s first major tennis tournament.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said a “tightrope” was being walked, but that the safety of Victorians would not be compromised.

“I do understand the players, this is a new experience for them and I don’t think anyone expected to know what the 14 days was like and they are adapting to it,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

“At the beginning, it was pretty challenging with their adaptation It’s got a lot better, I think the majority of the players understand and accept it and there is a minority struggling with it but we are going to do whatever we can to make it better for them.”



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English Premier League football players told to stop hugging or risk matches being stopped


The British government is increasingly alarmed by the sight of soccer players hugging and kissing in celebrations, risking coronavirus infections and the sport’s ability to be allowed to continue during the latest lockdown.

Outbreaks at Premier League teams, forcing the postponement of matches, have heightened concerns about the avoidable — and very visible — close contact between players.

“Everyone in the country has had to change the way they interact with people and ways of working,” Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston tweeted Wednesday.

“Footballers are no exception. COVID secure guidelines exist for football. Footballers must follow them and football authorities enforce them — strictly.”

Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Premier League has warned clubs that punishments will be handed out for flouting the rules.

Players have been told to avoid the very visible close contact between players that follows a goal.(AP: Rui Vieira, Pool)

The Football Association also expressed alarm at a lack of social distancing during last weekend’s FA Cup matches.

Huddleston linked on Twitter to a news story about the league’s letter to clubs which specified players should avoid handshakes, high-fives and hugs and that they were “fortunate to be able to continue to play”.

Those warnings have proven far easier to lay out than enforce, with the majority of goals still being celebrated with group hugs.

“It’s an emotional game,” Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after his side’s 1-0 win over Burnley.

“We have to understand the players when they celebrate but also understand the concern nowadays for a bit of less emotions and less hugging.”

The league configured protocols for the return of games in March in conjunction with Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, who on Wednesday also urged players to avoid hugging and kissing.

“We are in a very dangerous place now,” Van-Tam said on LBC radio while discussing the issue.

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Robbery victim had foot imprint on his face, court told



A Northern NSW man charged over an alleged robbery has been refused bail.

Jarrod Steven Skimmings, 36, from Tweed Heads South, faced Byron Bay Local Court via video link from a cell at Tweed Heads Police Station on Monday.

Defence solicitor Riley Owen lodged not guilty pleas on Mr Skimmings’ behalf to charges of robbery and possessing implements to enter or drive a conveyance and committing a Section 114 offence having a previous conviction.

Police will allege he robbed Andrew McPherson of his wallet and mobile phone in Tweed Heads South shortly before midnight on January 1 this year.

He is further alleged to have possessed a key belonging to a vehicle on January 8.

Mr Owen also entered guilty pleas to allegations his client tried to stalk or intimidate a woman in Tweed Heads last December, as well as drug possession charges relating to January 8.

In applying for bail, Mr Owen said his client could live in South Grafton address and was willing to abstain from alcohol and drugs and submit to a curfew if released.

“At this stage the robbery (charge) appears to be wholly reliant on the statement of a witness, or the alleged victim who, on the fact sheet, was intoxicated at the time,” Mr Owen said.

He said the account of Mr McPherson was not backed up by other witnesses.

Regarding the charges of possessing a key, the court heard Mr Skimmings came to possess this “without any nefarious means”.

Mr Owen said the father-of-five would benefit from being released so he could care for his sick partner.

He said there was no allegation he was violent during the alleged robbery.

But Magistrate Michael Dakin said the alleged victim gave an account of being “punched and kicked” and there was the “impression of a sole imprint on his cheek”.

Mr Dakin refused bail, citing the defendant’s “history of violence”.

He said he was “not persuaded” bail conditions could mitigate risks posed to the community if Mr Skimmings was released.

The case will go before Tweed Heads Local Court on March 1.



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Grandmother seeks to downgrade charge over toddler’s death in Sturt Highway crash, court told


A grandmother accused of causing the death of her two-year-old granddaughter in a car crash is seeking to downgrade the charge against her, the Adelaide Magistrates Court has heard.

Semaphore Park woman Valda Patricia Porter was driving along the Sturt Highway when her car hit a parked truck at the intersection with Job Road at Shea-Oak Log, north-east of Gawler, in July.

Her two-year-old granddaughter from Grange was one of the passengers in the car and was killed in the crash.

A six-year-old girl who was also a passenger in the car sustained serious injuries and was taken to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Ms Porter, 64, sustained serious injuries and had to be airlifted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Valda Patricia Porter appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court.(ABC News)

She was later charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

The court heard her lawyer and the prosecution were in negotiations over the charge.

Her lawyer said it was a “tragic” family incident, and he anticipated seeking the lesser charge of driving without due care for his client.

But prosecutors told the court they would proceed with the original charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

The matter will return to court in February.

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Xinja investors told shares worth ‘close to, or actually, zero’


Xinja surprised shareholders and customers when it announced in mid-December it would close all bank accounts and terminate its banking license. The neobank had promised to shake-up the banking industry and blamed COVID-19 and a tough capital raising environment for the decision.

However, The Age and Herald revealed the bank had pinned all hopes on a $433 million lifeline payment that ultimately never came through.

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The New Year’s Eve email said Xinja staff had been made redundant and the return of deposits was on track but directors struggled to provide clear answers to frequently asked questions such as, “Will Xinja continue as a non-bank?” and “Will Xinja shares be worth anything?”

Xinja said it had not been successful in “securing a pathway” to launch its US share trading platform, Dabble, adding the size of remaining capital and ability to expand into other services would determine its ability to stay afloat.

“If the business is able to do those things, then it may be possible to retain some value and slowly rebuild the business outside of banking. Otherwise, the likely value of our shares will be close to, or actually, zero.”

“They’re done”

Retail shareholder Brett Caldwell noted the letter had not been signed by chief executive Eric Wilson, as was the norm, adding he had “come to the conclusion, they’re done”.

“I think they’re just talking about Dabble to drag it out and use it as an excuse to burn whatever money they have left,” Mr Caldwell said.

Another shareholder, Will Rosewarne, said he was now treating his early investment in the start-up as a sunk cost. “I don’t see any way in which anybody would see value in Xinja. I’d give it a few months before it’s wrapped up, in liquidation and they’re selling it for whatever assets they have left.”

Others were less pessimistic, with shareholder Kai Ansaari remaining hopeful Xinja could reinvent itself. “Maybe it’ll be a case of under promise and over deliver … I think something will emerge out of the dust of Xinja.”

Xinja’s latest filings with the prudential regulator showed it had around $25 million in top tier capital as of September 2019 but a spokesman declined to comment on how much of this remained. The spokesman said Mr Wilson remained as Xinja chief executive and declined to specify the number of staff made redundant or which third party firms were helping with the restructure.

“Xinja is working with well known accounting and legal firms to assist it,” he said, also declining to comment on the likelihood the company would go under. “The board is monitoring this closely and will continue to act in line with their obligations and duties.”

Shareholders were also furious about the lack of communication coming from the company. An online forum used by Xinja shareholders and customers was deleted after the neobank announced bank accounts would be closed last month and Mr Caldwell said this had stifled the flow of information.

“Since the community was shut down, there’s no two-way communication. It’s just the updates we get every now and then,” Mr Caldwell said.

Another shareholder who invested $20,000 in the company, Sergei Sergienko, agreed saying there was “definitely not” enough information coming from Xinja.

“Put it this way, if I had my nest egg in them, I would start to be getting worried. The lack of communication is very bad. It’s unfair to the shareholders.”

‘App closing tomorrow’

Xinja customers with remaining funds in their account were told via email at 7.20pm on Monday night this week the mobile app would be discontinued within just over 24 hours.

Customers that failed to recoup funds would have the money transferred to another bank on their behalf, the email said.

“Once the app is closed, the process for both obtaining the remaining balance or accessing statements will be more difficult,” the email said.

Customer Bob Pratt who has a “fair bit of dough” with the bank said he had struggled to download bank statements from the app as it kept glitching and crashing. When he called Xinja on Monday for assistance, he was told the app would close by the end of the month.

“The CEO has gone to ground and now he’s hand-balling everything to his minions. It’s a bit of a bugger,” Mr Pratt said.

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Gini Wijnaldum told he “can’t get away with” Liverpool wages as he hasn’t “changed lives”


Gini Wijnaldum can’t consider himself to be worthy of a place among Liverpool’s top earners, according to former Premier League striker Darren Bent.

Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum is out of contract with the Reds at the end of the season, and there currently appears to be little chance of him signing a new deal in the coming weeks.

Liverpool are said to want to keep the 30-year-old, who has consistently been a key player for Jurgen Klopp, but both parties are currently apart on issues concerning the offer of a new deal.

The former Newcastle man is still on the same contract he signed after arriving from the Magpies in the summer of 2016, and he is said to earn around £75,000 a week.

While the impasse over a new deal is believed to centre around the number of years on the contract, several reports indicate that Wijnaldum is also after a hike in wages that will put him on a par with some of the club’s top earners.



Wijnaldum is out of contract at the end of the season

Former Tottenham, Aston Villa and England forward Bent doesn’t think he’s worth that though, and has questioned Wijnaldum’s position in the squad.

“He’s been very, very good, but no, I’m not putting him on the same wages as Salah, Mane, even Firmino, for that matter,” Bent told Football Insider.

“But to kind of catapult yourself to where van Dijk is, Alisson, these guys, them two, for instance, changed lives at Liverpool when they came in.

“So to say you want to be on the same kind of level as them, I don’t think so, you can’t get away with that.

“He certainly deserves a bigger wage than he’s probably on but to say that he wants to be one of the top earners in the same bracket as them guys, no.”

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Travel latest news: Dismay as arrivals to UK told negative Covid test won’t let them skip quarantine



Travellers will have to provide a negative Covid-19 test before arriving in the UK as part of an effort to prevent the spread of new coronavirus variants.

Passengers, including returning Britons, will be required to show proof of a negative test result obtained less than 72 hours before departure for the UK, with £500 fines for those who flout the rules.

Those arriving from countries not on the travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate – even if they test negative – although they will be allowed to leave quarantine with a second negative test after five days.

Exemptions will apply for hauliers, children aged under 11, air and boat crews, and those “travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests”.

The new rule is expected to come into force early next week, and while the current plan only applies to England, the Scottish Government has confirmed that it will adopt similar measures “as soon as possible”, without adapting the current policy that makes all ‘non-essential’ travel to Scotland illegal. Wales and Northern Ireland are also expected to announce their own testing requirements today.

Heathrow airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that this new measure should only be temporary. “We need to have a roadmap for how we get out of this because aviation is vital to us as a small island trading nation,” he said.

The strict new border controls come amid mounting fears over the highly contagious South Africa Covid variant, and the Government has now banned arrivals from 12 southern African countries, including South Africa, Namibia, the Seychelles and Mauritius, to stop its spread.

Scroll down for more updates.



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Police involved in arrest which knocked man unconscious will not be prosecuted, court told


Four South Australian police officers involved in the arrest of a handcuffed man that ended with him being knocked unconscious at the Victor Harbor Police Station in 2017 will not be prosecuted, a court has heard.

Nathan Cross, 43, has launched civil action against SA Police, alleging the officers failed in their duty of care and were negligent during his arrest.

In court documents, he has claimed that his head was “slammed” into a charge counter at the Victor Harbor Police Station by Senior Constable Ben Higgins, causing him to be knocked unconscious and to suffer a brain injury.

Mr Cross was charged with assaulting police but was acquitted in September after Magistrate Sue O’Connor found he had not been a threat and some of the officers had colluded with each other.

CCTV from within the Victor Harbor Police Station was tendered during the criminal prosecution against Mr Cross.

In her verdict, Magistrate O’Connor said Senior Constable Higgins “was not candid” in his statement about the incident, but conceded in court that “he had pushed” Mr Cross.

She said one officer was a “helpful witness” but the other two had made “misleading” statements “that place Higgins in the best possible light and blame Mr Cross for what happened to him”.

Today, Andrew Carpenter, for Mr Cross, told the District Court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would not be charging the police officers involved.

The court heard SA Police has applied to put the civil lawsuit on hold until it completes an internal investigation.

Nathan Cross was acquitted of assault in September.(ABC News)

“I would still need to speak to the officers and as has been indicated, we can’t do that until the internal investigation process has been dealt with,” lawyers for SA Police told the court.

But Mr Carpenter said the civil lawsuit had already been delayed for three years to give Mr Cross an opportunity to fight the assault charge.

“We’re saying this matter should not be delayed any further on the basis they may have disciplinary proceedings,” he said.

“The police originally requested a four-month adjourned to file a defence so they could interview the officers and now they’re saying they haven’t interviewed them yet.

“They’ve provided oral testimony, sworn affidavits and there’s been findings, of a court, of untruth of statement.

Master Elizabeth Olsson adjourned the police’s application to put the civil action on hold until February next year.

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