Tag Archives: Allegations

U.K. officials accused of ‘actively avoiding’ probing allegations of Russian meddling in Brexit referendum

A long-awaited report on Russian influence in British politics criticized the British government for neglecting to investigate whether Russia interfered in the 2016 Brexit referendum, describing its utter lack of curiosity about the threats to democracy as being a major failure at the heart of power.

The parliamentary report’s authors accused the British government of “actively avoiding” looking into evidence of the Russian threat to the EU referendum. The authors found this particularly unforgivable given the evidence that emerged of Russian interference in the U.S. elections in 2016 and in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

“There has been no assessment of Russian interference in the EU referendum, and this goes back to nobody wanting to touch the issue with a 10-foot pole,” committee member Stewart Hosie said, demanding that such a study be done and the public informed.

While the report from the parliament’s intelligence and security committee said it would be “difficult — if not impossible — to prove” allegations that Russia sought to influence the referendum, it was clear that the government “was slow to recognize the existence of the threat.” 

Committee members concluded that the goal of a resurgent Russia in influencing the vote would be to amplify existing divisions and thus possibly destabilize Western political systems.

In a 20-page response, officials denied the government had “badly underestimated” the Russian threat and rejected the call for an assessment of alleged Russian meddling during the Brexit referendum.

“We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU referendum,” the statement said.

The report says Russia sees Britain as one of its top intelligence targets in the West. It said Russian influence in the U.K. is the “new normal,” and successive governments have welcomed Russian oligarchs with open arms.

Russia denies meddling

Russians with “very close links” to President Vladimir Putin were “well integrated into the U.K. business, political and social scene — in ‘Londongrad’ in particular,” the report said.

Speaking before the report was released, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Russia “never interfered in electoral processes,”not in the United States, not in Britain, not in any other country.”

“We don’t do that ourselves and we don’t tolerate when other countries try to interfere with our political affairs,” Peskov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in front of a Russian flag in Sevastopol, Crimea in this March 14, 2018 file photo. A Kremlin spokesperson denied that Russia has ever interfered in the electoral processes in any country. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/The Associated Press)

Authors cite delay in making report public

The report’s authors said they were subjected to an unprecedented delay in making the document public, with officials holding off its release for more than six months. Critics claimed that was meant to shield Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party from embarrassment.

The committee did not offer a theory as to why the government delayed the report but did say the government’s explanations for delaying the report were not true.

The report was originally submitted to Johnson on Oct. 17. The government initially said it couldn’t be published until it was reviewed for national security issues, which postponed its release until after the Dec. 12 general election. 

Further holdups were caused by delays in appointing new members to the intelligence and security committee. 

Finally, Johnson named five Conservative lawmakers to the nine-person panel in hopes his hand-picked candidate would be chosen as the chair and block the report. The gambit failed when a renegade Conservative was chosen to head the committee with backing from opposition parties.

The opposition Labour Party has accused the government of failing to publish the report because it would lead to further questions about links between Russia and the pro-Brexit campaign in the 2016 referendum on European Union membership, which Johnson helped lead.

Another parliamentary panel — the digital, culture, media and sport committee — previously published the results of its own inquiry into disinformation and “fake news,” which called on election regulators and law enforcement to investigate reports that a British businessman with links to Russia donated 8.4 million pounds (approximately $ 14.3 million Cdn) to the Brexit campaign. The National Crime Agency said in September that it found no evidence of criminal offences related to the donation.

The intelligence committee report covered the full range of the Russian threat to the U.K., including election interference, espionage and targeted assassinations, such as the attempt to kill former spy Sergei Skripal in the English city of Salisbury two years ago.

The report urged British authorities to beef up their defences, saying the “clearest requirement for immediate action” was for new legislation to give tools to the British intelligence community faced with a “very capable” adversary and to battle espionage, illegal financial dealings of Russian elite in Britain and their “enablers.”

It called for better co-ordination with Britain’s Western allies and said Britain should be ready to lead international action and should work to develop new rules on “offensive cyber” operations.

It faulted unspecified social media companies for “failing to play their part” and said the British government should set up rules to “ensure that they take covert hostile state use of their platforms seriously” and “name and shame” those that fail to act.

The report’s release comes only days after Britain, the United States and Canada accused hackers linked to Russian intelligence agencies of trying to steal information from researchers working on a potential coronavirus vaccine.

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Vatican urges bishops to report more sex abuse allegations to police in new manual

The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests.

The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws have been ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favour of protecting their priests.

While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about co-operating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. That policy requires bishops and religious superiors to report allegations of sex crimes with minors only where local laws requires it.

The manual says: “Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.”

And it says church leaders must comply with “legitimate” subpoena requests.

The manual, issued in a half-dozen languages, appears aimed in part at depriving bishops and religious superiors of their frequent excuses not to carry out preliminary investigations into accused priests or co-operate with law enforcement.

The manual states, for example, that anonymous allegations should not be dismissed outright, and that even hearsay and social media posts can constitute the basis on which to launch a preliminary probe.

In addition, the manual says bishops should not ignore allegations just because they fall outside the church’s statute of limitations, since the Vatican can at any time decide to waive the time limit.

The only justification for dismissing an allegation outright, the manual says, is if the bishop determines the “manifest impossibility of proceeding,” such as if the accuser wasn’t under age 18 at the time or the priest wasn’t physically present when the alleged crimes took place.

A banner reading ‘stop excuses’ carried by sex abuse survivors is shown at a Rome demonstration in February 2019, when Pope Francis hosted a four-day summit on preventing clergy sexual abuse. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press)

For any bishop not knowing, it makes clear that the type of crimes that fall under sexual abuse is “quite broad” and includes not only sexual relations but any physical contact for sexual gratification.

The manual lists exhibitionism, masturbation, pornography production and “conversations and/or propositions of a sexual nature” that can occur through a variety of means of communication as crimes that must be investigated.

And it warns that bishops can themselves be prosecuted canonically for negligence if they fail to take allegations seriously and investigate them.

Documents follows abuse summit last year

The manual was published by the Vatican office that investigates priestly sex crimes, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and was issued in Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish, with a German edition expected.

Its origins lie in Pope Francis’s 2019 sex abuse summit, in which the presidents of all the world’s bishops conferences came to the Vatican for a four-day tutorial on abuse.

Francis summoned them after he himself botched a notorious case of abuse and coverup in Chile, and after he realized that many bishops around the world still didn’t understand or take seriously the depth of the abuse problem in the church.

On the first day of the summit, Francis issued 21 points of reflection going forward, with the first point a recommendation that the Vatican issue a handbook to help bishops investigate and prosecute sex crimes.

While the Vatican has issued a variety of abuse-related documents over the years, the new manual provides point-by-point instruction on how to conduct investigations, from start to finish.

The No. 2 at the Vatican office responsible, Monsignor Giacomo Morandi, acknowledged that no new norms are being promulgated.

“The real novelty, however, is that for the first time the procedure is described in an organized way — from the first report of a possible crime to the definitive conclusion of the cause,” he told Vatican Media.

The Vatican has long refused to flat-out require bishops to report abuse allegations to police, arguing that such a universal law could lead to unjust treatment of priests in countries where Catholics are a persecuted minority.

Survivors and advocates have long blasted the position, arguing that the Vatican could make a universal reporting mandate with certain exceptions if needed.

READ l Procedure in treating cases of sexual abuse of minors committed by clerics:

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-founder of bishop-accountability.org, an online resource centre about abuse, said the manual’s non-binding recommendation that bishops should report abuse was “incrementally better” than the Vatican’s past position.

But she stressed: “We’re past the point of ‘should.’ There is nothing stopping the pope from ordering bishops and religious superiors [to report] all allegations to civil authorities,” with exceptions where it’s not safe.

And she insisted that real progress would come when the Vatican institutes a true “zero tolerance” policy, permanently removing from public ministry any cleric who abuses and any bishop who enables him.

“That will be progress. That will be the reform that is needed,” she said.

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‘Entourage’ Actor Kevin Connolly Denies Costume Designer’s Sexual Assault Allegations

‘Entourage’ Actor Kevin Connolly Denies Sexual Assault Allegations | Entertainment Tonight

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Alyssa Milano Slams Blackface Allegations, Says She Was Portraying Snooki From ‘Jersey Shore’

Alyssa Milano Slams Blackface Allegations, Says She Was Portraying Snooki From ‘Jersey Shore’ | Entertainment Tonight

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B.C. investigating allegations ER staff played ‘game’ to guess blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients

British Columbia is investigating allegations health-care staff in emergency rooms were playing a “game” to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients, behaviour officials describe as an overt example of widespread, deep-rooted racism across the field of health.

Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix made the accusations public during a news conference on Friday, after hearing about the allegations late Thursday.

“If true, it is intolerable, unacceptable and racist,” Dix said.

Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC), the governing body for Métis in B.C., later said health-care staff called the game “The Price Is Right.” Physicians and nurses try to guess the blood-alcohol level of incoming patients they presumed to be Indigenous as closely as they could, without going over. 

Dix declined to identify the hospitals or health authorities being investigated. He would not clarify whether staff involved are suspended or still at work.

If the allegations are true, such behaviour would have “affected profoundly patient care,” Dix said.

Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former lawyer and longtime children’s advocate in B.C., has been appointed to investigate “the facts of the issue” and make recommendations to the province. 

Dix did not give a timeline for Turpel-Lafond’s investigation, but said she is starting her work “immediately.”

Turpel-Lafond said she is aware of one incident involving “a range of people,” however, a number of health authorities across B.C. will be investigated to see how pervasive the “game” is and to possibly review other, similar incidents of racism in the health-care system.

“Clearly, if there’s any workplace in British Columbia where people are playing games at the health or expense of Indigenous people, one can only expect someone in those roles to face severe consequences,” she said.

Turpel-Lafond said she is looking to release a statement about her plan for investigation to the public next week, but did not offer a timeline to complete her work.

Documented history of racism in health care

The allegations Friday come as little surprise to health-care professionals and members of the public.

MNBC CEO Daniel Fontaine said he heard about the game after a health-care worker told leaders about it during the Provincial Health Services Authority’s (PHSA) San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training. Fontaine informed the provincial government this week, triggering Friday’s news conference.

Fontaine said the game is widespread and “very pervasive,” but only a fraction of the problem.

He cited a 2019 report which catalogued 15 pages of “shocking and disturbing” incidents of racism and discrimination against Indigenous people across various sectors of the health-care system in B.C.

He said examples within that study “are equally as egregious” as the game described on Friday.

“There is something seriously wrong here besides The Price is Right. The Price is Right is just one game,” Fontaine said.

WATCH | Indigenous woman describes her experience with racism in the ER:

Aboriginal people face ‘pervasive’ racism in Canada’s health-care system, a new report finds 2:41

Harmful behaviours by staff

Another 2015 study, which was national in scope, found racism against Indigenous people in the health-care system was a major factor in poorer health among Indigenous people across Canada.

The study, called First Peoples, Second Class Treatment, said the inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health is rooted in colonialism, particularly government policies around segregation and residential schools.

The research suggested Indigenous people experience so much racism from health-care workers, they often strategize ahead of time how to deal with the behaviour before visiting emergency departments or avoid hospitals altogether.

In 2017, a joint presentation from the First Nations Health Authority and the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council said experts found more than 3,800 examples of stereotyping against Indigenous people in 2014, with “alcoholic” being the most common.

Harmful behaviours by staff included misdiagnosis, delay or denial in service, “improper procedure” and withholding of pain medication for Indigenous patients. People have died after receiving inadequate care.

The Canadian Public Health Association said in 2018 those who experience racism “exhibit poorer health outcomes, including negative mental health outcomes, negative physical health outcomes and negative health-related behaviours.”

Health Minister Dix said he will be reaching out to Indigenous leaders in B.C., especially in health care, as well as FNHA about the recent allegations.

Doctors of B.C., an organization representing physicians in the province, and the B.C. Nurses Union both said they support the investigation.

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Scott Moir refutes online allegations of breaking quarantine guideline

Scott Moir says he is in Florida during the pandemic to support his fiancee, and not because he’s on “vacation.”

Moir, 32, took to social media on Thursday because he felt he need to defend the couple from online attacks.

The Canadian figure skater posted a video on Instagram and Twitter on Thursday, explaining that he and fiancee Jackie Mascarin are in Tampa, Fla., because Mascarin works as a physician’s assistant in the respiratory unit of a local hospital.

Moir, of London, Ont., also said the pair were planning to return to their home in Ilderton, Ont., next week, though not via plane.

“The people who are stepping foot in the hospital, front-line workers, first responders, they’re heroes in a time like this and they’re putting their families at risk for the good of the society,” Moir said. “And I feel like as a life partner I should stay here in Tampa and support [Mascarin].”

Moir appears to have posted the video over claims he went to a resort outside of Canada in mid-March, after quarantine guidelines intended to help stop the spread of COVID-19 were put into place.

Moir was supposed to participate in the opening act of the figure skating world championships in Montreal, one of the first major events cancelled over concerns about coronavirus. The event was scheduled to begin Mar. 16.

“There’s people saying that I’ve been back and forth and that I went on vacation after worlds and fact of the matter is we’re in Tampa and we have been in Tampa and we’re in isolation and we’re following the guidelines,” Moir said.

Some others are now claiming it is irresponsible for him to return to Canada, citing those same guidelines and saying he could put others at risk by travelling across borders.

In the video, Moir said he and Mascarin would have “an incredible quarantine action plan” upon their return to Ontario.

“We are Canadians and we wanna help and that’s the whole reason Jackie wanted to be a physician’s assistant — she wanted to help people in need — so we decided that we would stay down here for a couple months and now that that’s done we’re headed home next week.”

Moir won five Olympic medals, including ice dance gold in 2010 and 2018, alongside long-time figure skating partner Tessa Virtue. Virtue has remained in Canada throughout the pandemic alongside boyfriend and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly in Vancouver.

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Call for coaching codes of conduct after harassment allegations at UVic

Post-secondary institutions in British Columbia are being urged to create coaching codes of conduct after verbal abuse complaints were made against a rowing coach at the University of Victoria.

The school began developing a code following the allegations. But like many other colleges and universities in B.C., it responds to complaints using a campus-wide discrimination and harassment policy that doesn’t include language that is specific to sports.

Joanna Waterman, the mother of one of three rowers who complained about coach Barney Williams, said an adjudicator hired by the school found his behaviour didn’t breach the harassment policy but “may not meet a coach’s code of conduct” or “safe sport guidelines.”

“Your policy allows for a coach to lock our daughter in a small room … and aggressively berate and humiliate her until she was so scared she cried and bore her nails into her palms, drawing blood, to try to withstand the trauma,” Waterman wrote in a letter to the university’s president.

“Your policy allowed for him to publicly humiliate, fat shame and torment her about her mental health.”

The Canadian Press has not seen the adjudicator’s report. The complainants declined to share it after the university warned they may face disciplinary action if they breach confidentiality. They also say they fear compromising a separate, ongoing investigation by Rowing Canada.

The Canadian Press has previously reported allegations that Williams yelled at Waterman’s daughter Lily Copeland in a locked room until she cried and dug her nails into her hands, shouted at her in front of others, criticized her weight and made demeaning comments about her anxiety disorder.

Williams, who remains head coach of the women’s team, said this week that he still cannot comment on the allegations due to confidentiality.

He has previously said he regards coaching as a privilege and responsibility, and is committed to continued professional growth to help student athletes become the best version of themselves.

Several rowers coached by Williams, including four current or former members of the University of Victoria women’s team, have defended him as a dedicated and inspiring leader.

Athletics director Clint Hamilton said he expects the code of conduct will be in place by the fall and it will clearly state expectations for coaches and align with safe sport principles, which are widely recognized guidelines to prevent and respond to abuse.

Portrayed by some as ‘hiding the truth’

A university spokesman said he could not comment on the adjudicator’s report because the provincial privacy law, collective agreements and internal policies bar it from discussing confidential matters.

“These legal constraints continue to apply even if others attempt to characterize portions of confidential reports to support their point of view,” said Paul Marck.

The school’s limited ability to provide information publicly has been inaccurately portrayed by some as hiding the truth or supporting an abusive coaching culture, which is not the case, he added.

Of the 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C., 14 have competitive sports programs. Seven lack a coaching code of conduct. But even among the seven that have such a code, most don’t use it to judge complaints and instead rely on general policies that apply to all employees.

Paul Melia, president of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, said a code is important because over time certain behaviours become normalized within the culture of sports. A strong code clearly defines forms of mistreatment, sets penalties for violations and helps change the culture, he said.

“Workplace codes may be more general and not take into account some of the specific kinds of circumstances that might arise in sport,” he said.

The seven institutions that have coaching codes are Simon Fraser University, Langara College, Capilano University, College of the Rockies, Camosun College, Okanagan College and Vancouver Island University.

However, the way the codes are applied varies. Coaches at Okanagan are judged by the code if an athlete files a complaint, while coaches at Camosun are judged against workplace policies as well as standards set by their governing athletic associations.

At Vancouver Island University, athletes can raise issues about coaches to the athletics director, which are then judged against the code, but complaints about abuse, harassment or sexual misconduct are pursued under policies that aren’t sports-specific.

Similarly, students at the College of the Rockies can contact student affairs leadership about coaches but formal complaints are pursued under campus-wide policies.

Simon Fraser, Langara and Capilano did not respond when asked whether their codes are used to judge complaints. But all have broader policies on their websites where students experiencing mistreatment are directed.

Nearly all the schools that have codes are smaller institutions that belong to the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association, which mandated members to align with the federal government’s Safe Sport for All initiatives established last year.

The initiatives led by previous sports minister Kirsty Duncan include a confidential help line to provide advice on reporting abuse. Critics have argued it needs to be paired with an independent investigative body, since athletes are typically referred back to their sports organization.

Selkirk College, like the University of Victoria, says it’s working on a code.

The province’s largest university, the University of British Columbia, has a code for volunteer and seasonal coaches but not staff coaches, who instead must adhere to a respectful-environment statement for all employees.

The Advanced Education Ministry said it cannot direct schools to establish codes of conduct.

“It is outside the ministry’s legislative mandate to oversee the internal development of institutional policy and administrative processes,” it said, adding that by law the university or college president is responsible for staff conduct issues.

Coaches covered by provincial law

The national governing body for university sports, U Sports, also has not handed down any mandates on safe sports or codes of conduct. Spokesman John Bower said coaches are university employees and are covered by provincial law, labour policies and collective agreements in some cases.

“U Sports does promote safe sport while respecting the jurisdiction of our member institutions,” he said.

Doug White, a retired rowing coach who has led teams at the University of Victoria and at the national level, said he was disappointed by the school’s handling of complaints against Williams. He added it was “bizarre” that it did not have a coaching code of conduct.

“From my perspective, the university should be a leader in this field,” he said. “They should be leading, developing a system that would be free of abuse.”

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Vanessa Bryant Speaks Out on Allegations That Sheriff’s Deputies Shared Photos of Crash Site

Vanessa Bryant Speaks Out on Allegations That Sheriff’s Deputies Shared Photos of Crash Site | Entertainment Tonight

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NHL commissioner speaks at Board of Governors meeting following allegations against coaches

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to address a potential new code-of-conduct policy for the league tonight, with CBCSports.ca carrying live stream coverage at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Bettman is at the NHL Board of Governors meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif., where he’ll speak publicly for the first time since various allegations surfaced against coaches. 

Bill Peters resigned as Calgary’s head coach after being accused of using a racial slur a decade ago by former player Akim Aliu. Peters was also accused of physical abuse by another former player.

Soon after Peters resigned, the Chicago Blackhawks put assistant coach Marc Crawford on leave while the team investigates allegations of physical abuse made against him by two other former players.

WATCH: Akim Aliu sees big changes coming to NHL

Former NHL forward Akim Aliu issues brief statement after holding a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly. 0:35

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Blackhawks put assistant coach Marc Crawford on leave after recent allegations

Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford will be away from the team while it reviews his conduct with another organization.

The Blackhawks didn’t provide any details Monday about what they are examining, but former NHL forward Sean Avery recently told the New York Post that Crawford kicked him after he was whistled for a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty when he played for the Los Angeles Kings during the 2006-07 season.

Speaking on a Barstool Sports podcast a year ago, former NHL defenceman Brent Sopel said Crawford “kicked me, he choked me, he grabbed the back of my jersey and just pulling it back.” Sopel played for Crawford in Vancouver.

The team said it will have no further comment until the review is completed.

The 58-year-old Crawford joined coach Jeremy Colliton’s staff in June. Crawford was the interim head coach for Ottawa at the end of last season. He also has served as the head coach for Colorado, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Dallas, leading the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup title in 1996.

“I understand the reason for a review,” Colliton said after Monday night’s 4-0 loss to St. Louis. “I can only speak for my time with Marc. He’s been excellent. I’ve really enjoyed that he’s added a lot to our group and our staff and our players. I’ll leave it at that.”

The issue with Crawford comes after Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters resigned Friday following accusations he directed racist slurs at a Nigerian-born player with one of Chicago’s minor league teams a decade ago. Others claimed Peters kicked and punched players behind the bench during his recent time with Carolina.

On Twitter, Akim Aliu said Peters “dropped the N bomb several times towards me in the dressing room in my rookie year because he didn’t like my choice of music.” It happened during the 2009-10 season while the two were with the Blackhawks’ top minor league affiliate in Rockford, Ill.

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