British police called to home of PM candidate Boris Johnson after altercation

Boris Johnson, leadership candidate for Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister, leaves a hustings event in London, Britain, June 21, 2019. (Reuters/Peter Nicholls)
Updated 22 June 2019
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British police called to home of PM candidate Boris Johnson after altercation

  • The Guardian newspaper, which first reported the story, said an unidentified neighbor had heard a woman screaming followed by “slamming and banging”
  • A spokesman for Johnson declined repeated requests for comment

LONDON: British police were called to the home of Boris Johnson, the favorite to be the next prime minister, after neighbors heard a loud altercation between him and his his girlfriend.
The police were called in the early hours of Friday to an address in south London where Johnson is living with his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds. Johnson is currently divorcing his second wife.
“The caller was concerned for the welfare of a female neighbor,” the police said in a statement issued on Friday evening. “Police attended and spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well.”
“There were no offenses or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action,” the statement said.
A spokesman for Johnson declined repeated requests for comment. Symonds could not be reached for comment.
The Guardian newspaper, which first reported the story, said an unidentified neighbor had heard a woman screaming followed by “slamming and banging.” At one point Symonds could be heard telling Johnson to “get off me” and “get out of my flat.”
Despite a series of scandals in the past and criticism about his attention to detail, Brexit supporter Johnson has dominated the race to replace Prime Minister Theresa May.
After a series of ballots to whittle down the race to two candidates, 160,000 Conservative Party members will now chose either Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt as their next leader — and thus the next prime minister.
A neighbor of Johnson told the Guardian newspaper that they had recorded the altercation from inside their flat out of concern for Symonds.
The Guardian said it had reviewed the recording and that Johnson could be heard refusing to leave the flat and using a swear word to tell Symonds to get off his laptop. Crashing sounds can also be heard, the newspaper said.
Reuters has not reviewed the audio.
Symonds is heard saying Johnson had ruined a sofa with red wine, according to the Guardian’s account.
“You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt. You have no care for money or anything,” Symonds is quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Another neighbor interviewed by the BBC confirmed the argument and said she had heard a woman shouting.
Johnson, 55, who served as London mayor for eight years, has cast himself as the only candidate who can deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 while fighting off the electoral threats of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.


Thousands rally in support of Hong Kong police

Updated 20 July 2019
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Thousands rally in support of Hong Kong police

  • Hong Kong has been rocked by more than a month of huge and largely peaceful protests
  • Demonstrators and rights groups have accused riot police of using excessive force, including tear gas and rubber bullets, and public anger against the force is boiling over

HONG KONG: Tens of thousands of people rallied in support of Hong Kong’s police and pro-Beijing leadership on Saturday, a vivid illustration of the polarization coursing through the city after weeks of anti-government demonstrations.
Hong Kong has been rocked by more than a month of huge and largely peaceful protests — as well as a series of separate violent confrontations with police — sparked by a proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China and other countries.
The bill has since been suspended, but that has done little to quell public anger which has evolved into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms, universal suffrage and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous financial hub.
Saturday’s rally was a moment for the establishment to muster their own supporters.
A predominantly older crowd was joined by families and younger residents, waving Chinese flags and holding banners supporting the police.
“Friends who used violence say they love Hong Kong too, but we absolutely cannot approve of their way of expressing themselves,” said Sunny Wong, 42, who works in insurance.
A 60-year-old woman surnamed Leung said protesters who stormed and vandalized the legislature earlier this month must be held responsible for their acts.
“I really dislike people using violence on others... it was so extreme,” Leung said.
Police estimated a turnout of 103,000 people at the peak of the rally, while local media cited organizers as saying 316,000 attended.
Hong Kong’s police are in the midst of a major reputational crisis.
With no political solution on the table from the city’s pro-Beijing leaders, the police have become enmeshed in a seemingly intractable cycle of clashes with protesters who have continued to hit the streets in huge numbers for six weeks.
Demonstrators and rights groups have accused riot police of using excessive force, including tear gas and rubber bullets, and public anger against the force is boiling over.
Police insist their crowd control responses have been proportionate and point to injured officers as proof that a hardcore minority of protesters mean them harm.
Some of the most violent clashes occurred last Sunday when riot police battled protesters hurling projectiles inside a luxury mall. Some 28 people were injured, including 10 officers.
There is growing frustration among the police force’s exhausted rank and file that neither the city’s leaders, nor Beijing, seem to have any idea how to end the crisis.
Chinese state media and powerful pro-Beijing groups threw their weight behind the pro-police rally.
Saturday’s edition of Hong Kong’s staunchly pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao ran a front page encouraging readers to join with the headline: “Kick away the violence.”
It featured a drawing of a large foot kicking over a pro-democracy demonstrator.
Many of those at the rally held aloft large slogans printed on the spread of Wen Wei Po, another stridently pro-Beijing newspaper in the city.
A rally last month by police supporters saw ugly scenes, with many participants hurling insults and scuffling with younger democracy protesters as well as media covering the gathering.
While the pro-government protests have mustered decent crowds, they have paled in comparison with the huge pro-democracy marches that have regularly drawn hundreds of thousands of people.
Anti-government protesters are planning another large march Sunday afternoon and say they have no plan to back down until key demands are met.
Tensions were also raised after police on Saturday said they had discovered a homemade laboratory making high-powered explosives. A 27-year-old man was arrested and pro-independence materials were also discovered.
Under the 1997 handover deal with Britain, China promised to allow Hong Kong to keep key liberties such as its independent judiciary and freedom of speech.
But many say that 50-year deal is already being curtailed, citing the disappearance into mainland custody of dissident booksellers, the disqualification of prominent politicians and the jailing of pro-democracy protest leaders.
Authorities have also resisted calls for the city’s leader to be directly elected by the people.