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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Woman reveals horrific damage to her face after it was injected with cement and tyre sealant by 'butt implant doctor'

By Chris Murphy and Tamara Abraham

An alleged victim of 'fake doctor' Oneal Ron Morris has come forward to show the horrific state of her face after it was injected with a toxic mixture of cement and tyre sealant.

Rajee Narinesingh, 48, from Miami, Florida, says her face was ruined by Morris, who had just been released from custody after she was accused of administering the potentially lethal shots to another victim.

Ms Narinesingh, who, like Morris, 30, was born a man, but lives as a woman, said she suffered acutely lumpy cheeks, misshapen chin and ballooning upper lip after the back room beauty treatment.

Back room beauty treatment: Rajee Narinesingh, 48, from Miami, Florida, says her face was destroyed after it was injected with a toxic mixture of cement and tyre sealant by 'fake doctor' Oneal Ron Morris

She admitted that she initially turned to Morris because she did not have the money to pay a licensed plastic surgeon. She says she learned of him by word-of-mouth in the transsexual community.

She told Miami television station CBS4: 'It becomes so dire that you want to match your outside with your inside that you're willing to roll the dice and take your chances.'

'As a transgender person, you're thinking, "Oh, my God, I can start to look like I want to look like and I don't have to spend a lot of money."'

Damage: Ms Narinesingh suffered acutely lumpy cheeks, misshapen chin and a ballooning upper lip

Desperate: Ms Narinesingh admitted that she initially turned to Morris because she did not have the money to pay a licensed plastic surgeon, and heard her name via word-of-mouth

Ms Narinesingh has since had several plastic surgery procedures to repair the damage, and faces more still.

'I had to end up going to surgery, to get me even to this point,' she revealed.

Morris, who was released from custody late last night after posting $15,000 bail, declined to comment as she left the Miami Dade County Jail.

She said only that she has a lawyer to answer reporters' questions, and the lawyer claims she is innocent.

Allegations: Oneal Ron Morris, who was released from custody late last night after posting $15,000 bail, declined to comment as she left the Miami Dade County Jail

'Fake doctor': Prosecutors say Morris administered the potentially lethal shots to three alleged victims

She was arrested earlier this month for practising medicine without a licence and causing serious bodily injury after a patient complained that she injected cement and a chemical compound called Fix-a-Flat, which is used to mend car tyres, into her backside.

The treatment left the victim with life threatening injuries, needing several surgeries and round-the-clock care.

Since Morris's alleged practices came to light, prosecutors say several victims have come forward.

A court was told that Morris used cement, mineral oil and Fix-a-Flat, in her backroom beauty treatments.

It heard that she then used superglue to patch up entry wounds in the skin.

Her arrest photographs show an apparently enhanced rear. Detectives say she performed the potentially lethal treatment on herself.

Morris is now free on bond but the probe by the Miami Gardens Police and health officials is continuing.

Dr Dr John Martin, who is now treating Ms Narinesingh, said he has been giving her therapeutic injections that he hopes will eventually soften the hard nodules that formed in her face and return her to a more normal appearance.

'There is not an easy solution to this nightmare,' he said.

Ms Narinesingh says she is grateful to Dr Martin for trying to help give her a face back.

'I have learned my lesson,' She said. 'I could have died. I know that now.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why DO young women go out dressed like this? We meet nightclubbers in four major cities to find the surprising and unsettling answer to the question d

By Tanith Carey

Birthday girl: This young lady in Cardiff proudly displays a cocktail glass hanging around her neck. Right, two young women show off their high heels and skimpy clothes during a night out in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Eight o’clock on a freezing November evening — but for all the skimpy outfits on the streets of Manchester, you’d think it was 80 degrees on the Costa Brava. Here the women’s hems are so high — and their tops so low — that there’s no more than a few inches of fabric to shield them from the biting winter cold.

Only the fake tans manage to hide the goosebumps as they totter along uncertainly in six-inch ‘hooker heels’, arm in arm for support.

Tonight it’s Hannah Lawson’s 18th birthday and she’s out on the town with five of her college friends after spending three hours getting ready. Teamed with leopard-print ankle boots, her outfit lends a whole new meaning to the term ‘Little Black Dress’

As she and her identically dressed friends line up, hands on hips, only the mottled skin on their naked legs hints at the six-degree temperature. But Hannah proclaims it’s worth it to give them that all-important quality: ‘confidence’.

‘Male attention is good. Then you know you look good,’ she says.

‘Yeah, guys wink and make sly remarks,’ chips in her friend Eleanor, 17. They have only just hit the streets, but already they know that their skimpy outfits have made an impact — another group of girls has branded one of their number ‘a slag’.

‘They’re just jealous because we’re beautiful and look young!’ says their friend Ruby Crowther, 19.

Of course, there’s nothing new about young women wanting to look alluring on a night out. But visit Britain’s town centres at night and you cannot fail to notice a disturbing trend: today’s generation of girls have fallen for a style of clothing that is perhaps best described as ‘stripper-chic.’

Suspenders: The tights worn by these two young females in Newcastle would have once been kept behind closed doors. The woman in red cowboy hat is keen to show off her her tiny skirt and lace thong

Party girls: See-through lace tops like the one worn by the brunette, right, in Newcastle, have become a guaranteed way for women to 'get male attention'

Red alert: This woman's revealing dress shows off a tattoo of flowers running up her leg. Right, this lady in Cardiff goes for the look of a burlesque dancer

The standard uniform — micro-miniskirts, sky-high heels and low tops — was once worn only by prostitutes on dingy street corners. Now it’s a mainstream style adopted by almost every female clubber and party-goer under the age of 30.

Why do they cheapen themselves so — especially at a time when young women have never had a greater opportunity to reject crass sexual stereotypes of old.

After all, girls are outperforming boys at every stage of schooling. In the workplace, female employees are starting to out-earn their male counterparts.

Why is it, then, in an age of true equal opportunity that so many women are dressing in such a demeaning way?

By visiting four cities around Britain — Newcastle, Manchester, Cardiff and London — on one night, the Mail set out to talk to these women and discover what motivates their choice of clothing. Their answers gave a surprising — and disturbing — insight into the values of a generation.

Joanne Avery, 23, is a clerical assistant from Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham, out clubbing in Newcastle. Her £45 Playboy skirt sits low enough to reveal a white thong, above it is tattooed her personal motto: ‘Couldn’t give a f***.’ It’s accessorised by another on her upper arm that reads: ‘Raw Sex.’

Joanne’s extensive wardrobe back at home — which includes 25 pairs of high heels — is made possible by the fact she still lives with her family. Indeed, it is her father who lends her money to help fund her £500 a month eBay shopping habit.

A group of friends in Cardiff prepare for the night ahead... but will they still look this way after a night of drinking?

Back to front: The extremely tight skirts of these young women in Cardiff reach the very tops of their thighs. Right, another young reveller wears a see-through top while her friend opts for platform heels in Newcastle

Joanne has no qualms about sharing the reasons why she is dressed so provocatively tonight. ‘I’m looking for a bit of totty. You have to dress in a certain way to get attention.

‘If you’ve got t**s, it helps. It does make me feel more confident. I’m a slut, but it’s OK to be a slut as long as you use protection, which most people don’t.’

For Joanne, it is simply not an option to dress more tastefully. ‘I’d never dress in jeans. I just wouldn’t like it. I always want to wear slutty clothes.’

It would be tempting to dismiss her comments as a one-off. But among the ‘stripper-chic’ girls whom we interviewed in Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and London, it was clear that there are many others like her: ordinary women dressing in a deliberately sexualised style.

Among their number were students, nurses, trainee accountants, trainee social workers, nurses and full-time mothers. When asked why they revealed so much of themselves, the answer came back time and time again: ‘It’s for confidence.’

Naomi Maxfield, an 18-year-old musical theatre student from Chesterfield, was out on the town in Newcastle.

‘I like getting male attention. If I didn’t, I would think: “What’s wrong?” ’ she says. ‘It’s quite a nice feeling. It makes you more confident. Guys smile at you, wink, whistle, try to chat you up.’

Natasha Parish, 19, a hairdresser from Newcastle, has taken an hour and a half to apply her fake tan, lashes and make-up. Once again, she cites the need to feel confident for her choice of clothing. ‘I think dressing up is a part of being a modern woman. I’m OK with how I look.

‘It is nice to get a bit of male attention, not too much. It makes me more confident if I know that I’m looking attractive.’

Given the acres of limbs that are exposed, you might assume that these girls are proud of their bodies. Quite the opposite.

It emerges that in many cases their outfits — and the male leering it provokes — are often a way to bandage up their insecurities in a world where they can’t match up to the oh-so-sexy, celebrity stereotypes of womanhood.

It doesn’t always work out as they hoped, as Sian, an 18-year-old carer on a night out in Cardiff, admits. Her insecurities about showing off her figure in such revealing clothes are so profound that she admits to drinking spirits with her friend to work up the bravery to leave the house.

‘We looked in the mirror before we left the house and were so upset that we necked half a bottle of vodka each.’

These shoes were made for walking: Three young revellers stride down the streets of Newcastle

The little black dresses: These two nightclubbers clutch their handbags in Manchester. Right, two more girls in Manchester who have minimal clothes on

Her friend Beth, a student, is wearing suspender-style tights, made popular by celebrities such as Rihanna. She says she didn’t buy them to look sexy or fashionable, but to cover up her legs, which she describes as ‘vile.’

‘There’s lots of pressure to look good. Boys always want that perfect person and other women all look amazing.’

Natasha Parish also ‘hates’ her legs — though you would never guess it from the scarlet and black micro-mini she is wearing in Newcastle city centre.

‘I wish girls wore a bigger variety of clothes going out,’ she says. ‘That’s why I wear dresses — everyone else does, so I would look stupid if I wore a longer skirt or trousers. I do wish it was easier and that I could go out in less revealing clothes.’

When Amber Davies, 21, a full–time mother from Bristol goes out in Cardiff, she wears her full armoury including a push-up bra and false eyelashes. But she has the self-knowledge to realise that ultimately it’s not a very convincing mask.

‘The only problem is that this isn’t what we really look like. In the morning, you’d be there without your hair extensions, make-up and false eyelashes, or your body-control pants — and you’d look completely different. Nobody knows what you really look like when you’re dressed up like this.’

The ubiquitous sky-high heels, fake-tanned legs and micro-skirts are about trying to create an illusion of perfection. With so many young women deep-down hating the way they look, provoking lust has simply become the easiest way they know to make themselves feel better. It’s about provoking a reaction.

As Charlene David, 25, and Stacey Leonard, 27, stop to chat, two male bystanders come up behind them, put their hands around their waists and tell them they look beautiful.

Far from brushing them off, both girls said it illustrated the usual reaction they provoked from men — and asked for the compliments to be recorded.

Other girls were also seen being touched and having their bottoms squeezed by men coming up behind them — or being forcefully coerced into bars. Because they were barely able to walk on their stilt-like shoes, many couldn’t stagger away, even if they wanted to.

It is Leanne McGinley, 25, a mother-of-two in a leopard-print dress, who sums up the contradiction. ‘I do find the male attention irritating. But it would feel a bit weird if there wasn’t any.’

The price they pay is not just to their self-esteem, but also to their bodies. They are willing to go through agony to spend the evening walking around in hooker heels, of up to six inches. Girls report coming home with feet bloodied from blisters.

But still they say the pain is worth it to look taller and thinner. Kelly Hewitt, 22, a full-time mother from Durham, says: ‘I’ve still got clothes with tags in. My highest heels are six or seven inches — I can walk around all night in most of them.

‘Of course it hurts, but I think it’s worth it. If you want to look good, beauty is pain.’

If it gets cold as she walks between pubs and clubs, she says she just drinks more. ‘The drink warms you up by the end of the night.’

But despite the fact these girls endure the chill and the blisters to look as they do, there is no sense of sisterhood. Instead women fight for pole position on the league table for who looks ‘hottest’.

It’s a contest that can spill into aggression and even violence. As the evening goes on, the alcohol flows and the pairings start to happen. Catfights break out, with competing tribes of girls shouting ‘slag!’ at each other from opposite sides of the street.

It comes as little surprise to discover that the more the women dress like strippers, the more men treat them that way. Among the men we spoke to, one described the women out on the town as ‘eye candy for free’ — and a chance to ‘window shop’.

Toby Harris, 29, a project manager from London, says he likes women dressing in barely-there clothes ‘because you get to think whether you want to sleep with them later’.

‘It’s a certain sort of women who dresses that way — easy chicks,’ he says. ‘They’re definitely not a long-term prospect because they are easy.’ In many cases, that sexist view may well be crass and unjustified. After all, shouldn’t women be free to dress as they please without being judged? But whatever their motivation for dressing as they do, there is no escaping how the micro-skirted mob are perceived by men.

Tom Jones, 23, a landscape gardener from Cardiff, says: ‘It’s good to give the game away and know what you’re getting. The less clothing the better.’

For Lewis Quinn, 23, an electrician from London: ‘Being around all these women is like being at a funfair with glaring lights in your face — but they’re not the sort I go for as it’s too revealing for me.’

What, then, of the parents of the girls who see their daughters disappear off into the night looking like life-sized Bratz dolls?

According to the women we interviewed, only a few parents had raised any serious objections. The greatest concern appeared to be the worry they might catch cold — not that they dressed so provocatively.

Some girls reported that their mothers checked their outfits before they went out and said they ‘looked nice’. Others said their mothers sometimes accompanied them out clubbing, envied their figures — and even borrowed their clothes.

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, author of the Home Office Review on the Sexualisation of Girls, believes society has become so influenced by porn culture that no one knows where to draw the line any more.

‘We are inheriting more from the porn culture than we realise — everything from fake nails to fake tans. Porn has become mainstream.

‘The sad thing is that the confidence of these girls has become directly proportionate to how they look. It doesn’t come from what they have achieved or what skills they have learned. It comes from how much attention and looks they get from men.

‘Of course, there’s nothing new about wanting to be desired and complimented. But with these young women, it’s not just that they like compliments. They crave them.

‘The problem comes when your only desire is to be desired.’
Additional reporting: Jenny Stocks & Laura Topham.


Some people never learn: Blinded and battered bullfighter vows to return to ring in first public appearance since horrific goring

-Juan Jose Padilla makes pledge just six days after crucial operation to repair paralysed face
-Says it's his dream to put on matador's uniform again and insists he does not want pity from fans over his ordeal
-WARNING: Graphic video

By Simon Tomlinson

A Spanish matador blinded in one eye after being gored during a bullfight today vowed to do the 'unspeakable' and return to the ring as he made his first public appearance since the horrific incident.

Juan Jose Padilla was speaking at a press conference just six days after undergoing a crucial operation to repair nerve damage in the left side of his face, which was left paralysed in the attack.

Bearing scars next to his jaw and left eye where he was pierced by the bull's horn, he said it was his dream to don the famous uniform once again and insisted he did not want pity.

'I do not want the fans to feel sorry for (me),' he told media at Virgen del Rocio hospital in southern Seville before returning home.

'I will fight again dressed as a bullfighter because this is my dream to meet the fans,' he added before referring to the motto 'Strength Padilla' which have flooded social networks in recent weeks.

The crowds at the Zaragoza's Fiestas Del Pilar bullfight at the Misericordia ring were left stunned when the bull's horn pierced his jaw and emerged through his left eye socket in October.

With blood gushing from his head, he was helped out of the ring screaming 'I can't see, I can't see'.

He then underwent a life-saving five-hour operation to repair severe damage to his eye, bone, muscle and skin.

He said he was feeling better than three weeks ago and was 'very excited' about his recovery following his treatment under the direction of maxillofacial surgeon Alberto Garcia Perla.

Gored: The bull's horn pierced Mr Padilla's jaw and emerged through his left eye socket after his fight went horribly wrong in the northeastern city of Zaragoza's Fiestas Del Pilar

The operation Mr Padilla underwent last Tuesday aims to rebuild the facial nerve severed in the goring which left him with difficulties swallowing and talking.

Mr Padilla will face a long rehabilitation process that will begin in a couple of weeks at a recovery centre.

It is hoped the operation will recover around 80per cent mobility in his face.

Mr Padilla said: 'I want to thank the Hospital Virgen del Rocio and the entire medical team for giving me the opportunity to return to normal life and giving me the hope of returning to the arena.'

Dream: Mr Padilla stressed his desire to return to bullfighting once he has sufficiently recovered while giving a press conference at the Virgen del Rocio Hospital

Support: Mr Padilla gets a kiss from his mum as he leaves hospital with his girlfriend, Lidia. He will spent some time at home before going into rehabilitation at a medical centre

Hope: Mr Padilla is confident he will recover enough to go back into the ring to face bulls again

Accompanied by his wife, Lidia, his parents and his attorney, Taurine SanlĂșcar Diego Robles, Padilla was given a standing ovation before moving to his home in Sanlucar de Barrameda in Cadiz.

It is not the first time Padilla, 38, a popular matador who has won many fans for his courage and willingness to face the toughest bulls, has been gored.

In 2001 the Jerez native suffered serious injuries to his neck during a fight in Pamplona.

The bull, called Marques and from the Ana Romero ranch, quickly took its revenge after Padilla slipped and fell in the sand after the placing of the banderillas (barbed sticks).

Grateful: Mr Padilla (third right) with the medical team who he thanked for enabling him to return to a normal life

Indebted: The matador embraces Dr Domingo Sicilia, who was part of the medical team that helped with his facial reconstruction

Doctors had initially thought the goring, of which footage exists on Youtube and was shown on Spanish TV channel Canal+ Toros, would be fatal.

But the bullring's doctor Antonio Val-Carreres later told El Pais newspaper that Padilla was in serious condition and was staying at Zaragoza's Miguel Servet hospital.

It is not the first time Padilla, 38, a popular matador who has won many fans for his courage and willingness to face the toughest bulls, has been gored.

Fateful fall: Mr Padilla slips as he turns around from the ball and falls to the floor, giving the bull the chance to strike

Pierced: The bull takes its revenge on Mr Padilla by goring him through his jaw as he lies helplessly on the ground

After: With blood gushing from his face, and his assistants distracting the bull, Mr Padilla is helped from the ring


Whining dog owner filmed punching his pet in the head is banned from keeping animals... but claims HE should get compensation

-Jonathan Bloomfield says footage posted online was an invasion of his privacy
-He claims the dog bit his son and he was sick of it barking
-Apologises for what he did but claims his family are now homeless

By Emily Allen

Jonathan Bloomfield, 37, was filmed by a neighbour viciously punching and swearing at his 18-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier, Butch

A dog owner filmed punching his pet in the head has been banned from keeping animals - but now claims he should be compensated for an invasion of his privacy after the footage was posted on Facebook.

Jonathan Bloomfield, 37, was filmed by a neighbour viciously punching and swearing at his 18-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier, Butch, earlier this year.

The footage was posted online and went viral and his violence enraged people so much that an angry mob turned up on his doorstep and forced him to flee with his family from his home in Grimsby to London.

Bloomfield was banned at Grimsby magistrates' court from keeping dogs for 15 years after admitting two counts of animal cruelty, but now claims he 'should be compensated for the invasion of privacy'.

The 37-year-old said he felt sorry for what he did but added: 'If my neighbour had concerns, he should have got in touch with the RSPCA, not made videos of my family and put them on Facebook and YouTube.

'I will be seeking the advice of a solicitor and should be compensated for the invasion of privacy which has left my family homeless and denied my young son a better future.'

The court heard how Bloomfield claimed that he punched the dog because it had bitten his three-year-old son's hand when taking a packet of crisps from him.

He also claimed he was stressed from work and was 'sick of the dog barking'.

Bloomfield said: 'I heard my son crying and he was holding his hand, saying the dog bit him. I was angry so I went out and bashed him.

'It is not in my nature to be cruel to animals and I know it was not the best way to go about things but I was upset.'

Bloomfield claims to be an animal lover and insisted that his neighbours didn't like his family because they were from London.

The video, shot from a neighbour's window, shows Butch being kicked, punched in the face and repeatedly hit in Grimsby, north-east Lincolnshire

During the court case, magistrates were warned the footage - filmed between September 9 and October 18 - contained 'disturbing' images.

It shows Butch at the back door whimpering to be let inside the house and then being beaten twice with a pole by Bloomfield.

In a separate shot, Butch is then seen standing outside the door whining when it is flung open and he flinches in fear.

Bloomfield grabs Butch by his neck before punching him in the head and kicking him while a small boy stands behind him, seemingly egging him on. Right, a woman in a bra and trousers with a towel on her head opens the door and appears to whip the dog with a cloth

As Butch cowers in terror, a pole is brandished at him from the doorway of the property. The Staffordshire bull terrier was taken to Grimsby Blue Cross Animal Hospital to be checked over and the RSPCA took hundreds of calls

Next, a woman in a bra and trousers with a towel on her head opens the door and allegedly whips the dog with a cloth before slamming the door.

One shot shows the dog eventually being allowed into the house, but not before it cowers in terror.

Finally, the most disturbing piece of footage shows Bloomfield seemingly grabbing Butch by his neck before punching the dog twice in the head and kicking him. A small boy appears behind Bloomfield, apparently egging him on.

Bloomfield can be heard shouting 'shut the f**k up'.

Bloomfield was arrested on October 18 after his neighbour Michael Currie posted the video on Facebook.

People gather near Bloomfield's house in Grimsby after the footage was posted on Facebook

Bloomfield continued: 'Neighbours didn't like us because we are from London.

'They would come round complaining that the dog was making a noise and then film me when I smacked him.'

Bloomfield also kept lizards, a bird and a fish - but has since got rid of them because he 'genuinely thought' he was going to prison.

He added: 'I plan to replace the lizards but after everything that has happened, I will never keep a dog again - even after the 15-year ban is up.

'We are now living with my mother in London.

'My son has had to leave the nursery he went to and the friends he made. We lost everything we loved in the space of an hour.

'I have lost my house over this and it is wrong.'

Butch was taken into the care of the RSPCA.

Mr Bloomfield was also ordered to complete 260 hours of unpaid work and pay £100 costs.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

I was viciously raped on this Barbados beach but local police cared more about protecting tourism, says brave British grandmother

By Angela Levin

Sitting in her immaculate three-bedroom bungalow on Anglesey, Diane Davies thinks every day of her holiday in Barbados last winter. But she wishes she could forget it.

For this 62-year-old grandmother of nine, holiday memories don’t mean happy images of a paradise island with palm trees, white sand and warm seas.

Instead, she relives over and over the brutal rape she suffered in broad daylight in one of the island’s most exclusive areas.

Bruised and swollen: Diane Davies the day after her attack

Her anguish over this horrific attack is compounded by her treatment by the local police and victim-support personnel, which, at best, could be characterised as breathtakingly incompetent and, at worst, as callously indifferent.

Indeed, Diane, a widow, believes that the island’s authorities are more concerned about protecting the lucrative tourist industry than they are about seeking justice. It is for this reason, one year on, she has decided to break her silence and talk about her ordeal.

‘Initially I was utterly devastated and humiliated by what happened to me,’ she says. ‘But with the passing of time, I am now just very angry.

‘The Barbados police are totally inept at dealing with this sort of crime in both practical and pastoral ways.

More...British actress attacked by serial rapist in Barbados says island's police were 'only concerned with image for tourists'

‘Despite the fact that there had been a rape two days earlier in the exact location where I was attacked, there were no officers about or any warnings. I believe they try to brush the rapes under the carpet so as not to damage the overseas tourist market, which includes 250,000 British holidaymakers a year.

‘It works because many women feel too ashamed to talk about what happened to them.
But I want to speak out because people should be aware of the dangers.

‘The truth is that if a woman is raped in Barbados, she is unlikely to get the support she needs. There are almost no procedures in place and the police are way behind in how they tackle crime. I am also very disappointed with the British High Commission, which has done almost nothing to help me.

Ordeal: Diane was grabbed as she walked to this beach in Barbados

‘The police claimed they had arrested the man in May but, for reasons they refuse to reveal, they won’t let me identify him. So how does anyone know it is him? Instead he has been taken to court once a month ever since and the case is then adjourned. I believe it is just for show.’

Diane, originally from Manchester, has lived on Anglesey for 11 years. Her husband, Trevor, a pensions manager, died from pancreatic cancer in 2005 after 24 years of marriage. A year later she moved into her bungalow.

Two years ago, as her 60th birthday approached, Diane, a primary school teacher, decided to treat herself to a holiday. ‘I decided on Barbados not least because everything I read said how safe it was,’ she says. ‘I didn’t mind going on my own – I have always been independent. I rented a flat in a condominium for two weeks. It was very luxurious with the biggest swimming pool on site in Barbados.

‘It was in the Holetown district, near where the rich and famous, including Simon Cowell and Tony Blair, come to stay and close to the Sandy Lane Hotel. I made friends with couples at the condominium and enjoyed myself so much I decided to go back again last year and flew out on October 17.

‘I used to get up at 6am, go for a jog and then come back and swim in the pool. After lunch I’d walk to the beach, which was ten minutes away, and swim in the sea. I’d then usually meet a couple from Jersey for a drink on the beach and then walk back with them so I was home before 7pm. I stayed in every evening because that was the sensible thing to do.

‘On Monday, October 25, I was walking to the beach as usual at about 2pm in bright sunshine. I turned down a short pathway and at the end stood for a few moments, wondering whether to go to the left and swim with the turtles or to the right, when I suddenly felt a powerful arm grab me around the neck from behind and drag me backwards. I started to scream but the man put his hand over my mouth to stop me. I bit him.

‘He continued to drag me backwards over bits of glass and other debris until we got to what was a derelict hotel. He threw me on an old mattress and I started fighting him with all my strength because I was terrified he would kill me. He then grabbed the beach towel I had been carrying and held it over my face so I couldn’t breathe, which forced me to stop struggling. He was also holding down my shoulder so hard that I later discovered he had broken my collarbone. He suddenly picked me up and carried me to another empty room.

‘I am 5ft 4in and weigh just under 9st. He was black, tall and muscular in his mid-30s with a shaved head, a chubby, baby face and dressed only in white shorts. I was overpowered.

‘He then took off my sarong and bikini and raped me. I felt sure he would kill me because I had seen his face but suddenly remembered reading that it can help if you talk to a rapist so that they see you as a person rather than an object.

‘So I told him I was a 61-year-old grandmother with four children and nine grandchildren and felt he slightly softened. I think talking to him saved my life. When he had finished he said, “Make yourself decent but if you tell anyone about this I will kill you.” He then walked away.

‘I grabbed my clothes and staggered about 50 yards, where I came across an exclusive beach club and saw families happily swimming in a pool. It may sound silly but at that moment I felt so relieved that I was alive that I was strangely euphoric.
‘Many of them stared, shocked, at my face, which I hadn’t realised was bruised and swollen. Someone called the police and I sat waiting in a daze, unaware of any of my injuries.

‘Three police officers arrived shortly afterwards. They told me to get in the car and they would drive me around to see if I could see the rapist. Their attitude was totally clinical and not one said any word of sympathy. I didn’t see him, and after about an hour I was taken to the local police station where I waited another hour before being driven to see the female police doctor.

‘The doctor dressed the wounds on my legs from being dragged over glass, took a DNA swab and told me I was very bruised internally. I was then driven back to the station and, to my horror, left sitting outside in the back of the police car on my own for 45 minutes. I was so terrified that the rapist, who had threatened to kill me if I went to the police, might walk by and see me that I didn’t dare get out and walk into the police station. Lots of people peered into the window to look at me, which was awful. The insensitivity of the police was breathtaking.

‘Eventually I was driven back to my apartment for half an hour to have a bath, but my shoulder was hurting so badly I couldn’t wash or even brush my hair. The police then took me to the local hospital, where an X-ray showed I had a broken collarbone and two cracked ribs. I was also given anti-viral tablets in case the rapist was HIV-positive and a hepatitis B injection.’ (Diane subsequently tested negative for HIV.)

‘While I was there, Joanne Carey from the British Consulate came to see me. She told me that the police had only just told her that another British woman, who was in her 20s, had been raped at the same spot two days earlier. I later discovered there are at least 55 known rapes on the island a year – 13 in the past year in the spot where I was attacked.’

Diane have bravely waived her anonymity to expose her treatment after the attack which left her fearing for her life

In fact, according to the Royal Barbados Police Force website, there were 169 incidents of rape, indecent assault and assault with intent to rape in 2010.

‘The next day at 5.30pm I was driven to the police station to give a statement,’ Diane continues. ‘I was questioned for five-and-a-half hours without being offered any food or drink in 86F [30C] heat. My questioner was a female police officer who plainly didn’t know what she was doing and kept asking me the same questions over and over again while she constantly checked a police manual.

‘By 11pm I was in agony with my shoulder and asked if I could go home, not least to take a painkiller. The officer turned to me and said, “It’s not easy for me, you know. I have to do my tour of duty after I have finished with you.” I was speechless at her lack of compassion.

‘Later on, I was again taken to the police station, this time for an identity parade. The rapist wasn’t there, which was lucky in one way as all the men were led right past me as they went out and could identify me.’

On another visit to the hospital, she was left in the casualty department while a victim-support officer went off to chat to her friends.

‘I was absolutely terrified and totally vulnerable about what might happen to me.’ She catches her breath. ‘Please put this in. People need to know how they treat their visitors in Barbados.’

She was being taken back to her condominium by police when they stopped at a shopping mall where she had to sit waiting while a female police officer went to buy a T-shirt.

Diane flew home on Sunday, October 31. ‘My sister and youngest son Gary came to Manchester Airport to meet me and when I saw them I burst into tears. It is very unlike me but I was so relieved to get home.’

She was told by the police tourism officer and the British Consulate that she would be kept up-to-date with her case, but Diane says that unless she pesters the individuals concerned, she hears nothing.

Her experiences chime with those of another British woman whose story was made public earlier this year. Former actress Hilary Heath was the victim of a rape in Barbados in 2004 and said that police had seemed more interested in protecting the island’s reputation.

‘Both the police and the Consulate are inept,’ Diane says. ‘I am so angry that no one has taken what happened to me seriously or realises the impact it has had on my life. My collarbone has never healed and living with it is a terrible reminder. I will no longer go abroad or go out in the evening, and wherever I walk during the day I am constantly looking anxiously over my shoulder.

‘I have submitted a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority in Barbados. Last week, after months, I received a reply from the chairman saying they can’t investigate my complaint because my case is pending before the courts. What nonsense. I was complaining about procedure, not the case itself. I’m going to keep on. I want justice and to know they haven’t dragged anyone off the street just to make a charge.

‘It is also hard to believe that throughout my experience no police officer or victim-support worker asked me if I was all right or showed any sympathy. All I was doing was walking to the sea at 2pm on a beautiful day. It never occurred to me that I could be raped close to a luxury estate on a paradise island yards from where celebrities stay. But if a 61-year-old can be raped, it is a dangerous place for women of any age.’

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We updated our travel advice at the time to warn British nationals that attacks had taken place in the area. We continue to monitor levels of crime in Barbados, in line with our global policy in order to ensure that travel advice remains accurate and up-to-date.’

Paul Brummell, British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, said: ‘In July, we organised and sponsored a conference in Barbados for some 34 police officers across the Caribbean on Supporting Victims Of Sexual Assault, with participation from four Barbadian officers. We are supporting a programme in the UK later this month for ten Caribbean police officers to deepen their understanding of UK practice in the support of victims of sexual assault.’

The police in Barbados were not available for comment.


Camilla's beauty tip to Kate: The £165 bee sting treatment hailed as 'non-surgical facelift'

By Claudia Joseph

As a former cigarette smoker and sun worshipper, the Duchess of Cornwall may not be the first person who springs to mind for beauty tips.

But in fact, Camilla has been advising the newest member of the Royal Family, the Duchess of Cambridge, on her complexion.

Camilla has long been a fan of beauty therapist Deborah Mitchell, who treats her regularly with her £165 bee sting facial, hailed as a ‘non-surgical facelift’ – the organic alternative to Botox.

The former beauty queen, who has won awards for her Heaven skincare range, has been visiting Buckingham Palace and Highgrove to look after Kate’s skin – and even offered her tips for the Royal Wedding.

‘Deborah has been treating Camilla for six years now,’ a source said. ‘Like any customer who finds something good, Camilla has told her friends and in-laws, including Kate. Now she visits the Royal Family wherever they are in residence. They are lovely to her.’

Kate does have treatments rather than simply buying the products, said the source, but does not visit the salons, instead having discreet home visits.

Deborah, who was voted Miss Shropshire in 1986 and was runner-up in Miss Great Britain the following year, began developing the Heaven range of beauty products when she was a student in Telford.

But it is her bee venom mask, costing £65 a pot, which has put her on the map. Containing about one per cent bee venom, it tricks the skin’s surface into thinking it has been stung, increasing its blood flow, collagen and elasticity.

Assistance: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, pictured here with Prince Charles, has been offering beauty tips to the Duchess of Cambridge

Mixed with manuka honey, shea butter, rose and lavender essential oils and a ‘secret ingredient’, it has become the must-have product for celebrities. Fans such as Victoria Beckham, Kylie and Dannii Minogue, Emilia Fox and Michelle Pfeiffer, flock to her salons in London’s Hale Clinic and Shifnal, Shropshire, or order one of the 150 products she sells online.

Deborah, 46, said: ‘They were discovering the more they did Botox, the more their faces did not match their body language and viewers found them difficult to trust.

'This pushes out those wrinkles and gives a smooth, supple look and feel to the skin – as opposed to the frozen-face look associated with Botox.’

Satisfied: Beauty therapist Deborah Mitchell, left, who often treats Dannii Minogue, right

She has become a British success story and this year was a finalist in the National Business Awards after securing a £100 million contract to sell her treatments and products in 2,500 stores and salons in China.

She is now training dozens of British therapists to travel to the Far East to run them.

But that contract paled in significance when she landed Britain’s new Royal bride as a customer. ‘I’m afraid I cannot talk about that,’ she said.

The Mail on Sunday yesterday explained the claims about the Duchess of Cambridge’s beauty regime and a Clarence House spokesman said: ‘I wouldn’t comment on such a matter.’


A family affair: Amanda Knox celebrates her first Thanksgiving as a free woman with her mother and sister

By Lucy Buckland

Happy holidays: Amanda Knox (left) celebrated her first Thanksgiving out of prison with her sister Deanna, 22, and mother Edda

She spent the last four Thanksgivings in an Italian jail for a murder she didn't commit.

So it's no surprise Amanda Knox looked happy but thoughtful as she spent this year's holiday with her mother Edda Mellas and sister Deanna Knox, 22.

The 24-year-old was cleared of murdering British student Meredith Kercher last month and it seems Knox is finally getting back to normality as she shopped for food with Ms Mellas and Deanna.

Knox is no longer living with her family after she moved in with classical guitar student James Terrano, an old friend, shortly after she returned home.

The couple are sharing a £950-a-month apartment in Seattle’s rundown Chinatown area.

Knox’s new boyfriend is from a middle-class New York family. He is studying classical music, specialising in guitar, at Seattle’s University of Washington.

Free: Amanda Knox looks happy but a little preoccupied as she strolls to the shops to get Thanksgiving groceries

Knox had been reading languages there and is believed to be about to resume her studies.

Knox was convicted alongside Italian Raffaele Sollecito and drifter Rudy Guede, of Miss Kercher’s murder in 2009 after her body was discovered in a pool of blood at the flat she shared with Miss Knox in Perugia.

Guede, from the Ivory Coast, received a 30-year sentence (reduced to 16 year in 2009) for sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher.

Knox and Sollecito were sentenced to 26 years and 25 years respectively for sexual assault and murder. Their convictions were overturned on appeal in October.

Getting back to normality: Amanda Knox and her boyfriend James Terrano two weeks ago, Knox looks like she is slowly adjusting to outside life

After her release Kurt Knox said his daughter has a long road to recover emotionally.

He said: ‘Part of the issue being in prison for four years is what is the trauma associated to this and when will it show up, if it even shows up. She’s a strong girl but it’s been a tough time for her.

'It’s going to take a long period of time, it’s really going to be what she needs when she needs it.

Tearful: The family of Amanda Knox, pictured as she was cleared of Meredith Kercher's murder in November, said it would take the 24-year-old a long time to recover emotionally


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Smile that melts misconceptions: How Taya, who was born with Down's, became darling of the modelling world

By Frances Hardy

Star quality: 14-month-old Taya Kennedy. Retailers, including the Early Learning Centre and Mothercare, are already queuing up to feature the bright-eyed toddler in their advertising campaigns

The camera just loves little Taya Kennedy. Wide-eyed, cheeky, engaged; she brims with the confidence of a natural performer. It is little wonder that she has taken the child-modelling world by storm.

The fact that 14-month-old Taya also has Down’s Syndrome is quite incidental. She was selected, not to fulfil a quota, tick a box or adhere to the dictums of some politically-correct code of positive discrimination. Taya was picked because, quite simply, she is a star.

‘Taya is an incredibly photogenic, warm and smiley child, and that shines through in her photographs,’ says Alysia Lewis, owner of Urban Angels, the prestigious UK model agency that has signed her up.

‘We only open our books twice a year and select just a few new children each season.

'The standard is high; the desire for places strong. Taya is one of 50 children we chose from 2,000 applicants.

‘That she has Down’s Syndrome did not enter the equation. We chose her because of her vibrancy and sense of fun. Not all children are comfortable in front of a lens and with a photographer looking at them — especially when they are so young. But Taya was so relaxed and happy. She was just what we were looking for.’

Retailers, including the Early Learning Centre and Mothercare, are already queuing up to feature the bright-eyed toddler in their advertising campaigns.

And Taya’s devoted mum, Gemma Andre, couldn’t be more proud.

‘I always believed my daughter was stunning but I thought, “I’m her mum. I’m biased,”’ she says.

‘When the agency rang me and said, “We want her on our books. She’s absolutely beautiful”, I was delighted.

‘I asked them if they were aware she had Down’s Syndrome. They said: “It’s immaterial. We’ve accepted her.” At that moment I burst into tears. I was overjoyed, not so much because Taya was going to be a model. More importantly, she had competed on equal terms with every other child and succeeded.

‘People can be really negative about children with Down’s. They say they can’t do this and won’t be able to achieve that. It’s incredibly frustrating. Someone said to me the other day: “I suppose she’ll never be able to live an independent life,” and I said, “Why on earth not?”

‘When people say “poor you” I find it offensive and irritating. The way I see it, some people cannot even have children and God has given me this special child.’

The story of Taya, her single-minded mum and proud father Robbie Kennedy is an uplifting one. Gemma, 29, a mortgage adviser with Santander, has never accepted that constraints must be imposed on her daughter because she has a disability.

She refuses to countenance the negative and believes that her only child is capable of achieving any dream, however elevated.

‘Already Taya attends a mainstream nursery,’ she says.

‘Her father and I want her to go to an ordinary school, too. After her birth, I was given a list of things she wouldn’t achieve; accomplishments she could never hope to master.

‘It was so dispiriting. I was told her teeth would not all develop. But already she has seven baby teeth. I was warned she would be slow to speak. But she already says “dad, mum, nana, cat and ta”.

‘So now I take no notice of what the experts say.

'And I am determined Taya will have as many chances in life as any other child. I want her to go to dancing school. She loves music and has a sense of rhythm; she sways and claps her hands when I sing to her.

'After her birth, I was given a list of things she wouldn't achieve; accomplishments she could never hope to master. It was so dispiriting... Now I take no notice of what the experts say,' said Gemma

‘I’m already saving for her to have driving lessons. I have a fund for her to go to university. I want to prove to Taya that any goal in life is attainable. It doesn’t matter that she has Down’s Syndrome. She can still achieve. I want her to be an inspiration to others.’

If Gemma sounds optimistic, it is because Taya has already defied so many of the experts’ other predictions about her future too.

‘I was told that children with Down’s Syndrome are not expected to walk until they are three to five years old,’ says Gemma.

‘But Taya is already standing. She is a strong little character and her physiotherapist has told me that she thinks she will be walking by Christmas.

‘Her muscle tone is excellent; just like a normal child’s. So it would be the best present I could have if Taya took her first steps on Christmas Day.’

Taya, however, has not surpassed such milestones by luck alone, for Gemma has exceptional reserves of grit and determination: ‘I’ve played games with her to develop her muscles; I do exercises with her. She stands on my knees and her little legs are firm. I’ve bought her a toy animal with a swivelling seat that bounces. She shrieks with laughter when she plays on it. She loves it and it also strengthens her legs.’

Gemma and Robbie have always refused to dwell on the limitations imposed by their daughter’s condition. Instead they have fostered her strengths.

Supported by her mum, Diane, 58, a social worker whose area of expertise is disabled children,

Gemma has discovered that Taya responds well to visual stimulation.
‘She likes sensory toys: light tubes, bubbles, mirrors. She reacts positively when we mime to her, so the whole family is learning sign language.’

Taya was born in September 2010. Although the pregnancy was not planned, Gemma and her partner of three years Robbie, 23, who works in banking administration, were delighted. Gemma had been prudent with money. She owns two properties, one of them the pleasant detached house in Bradford that is her home.

‘I had no debts, a good job; I knew I could give our baby a good quality of life,’ she says.

Gemma decided against having any tests that would disclose whether her baby had Down’s. She knew they could increase the risk of miscarriage; besides, she and Robbie had resolved to love whatever child they were blessed with.

But looking back, she sometimes wonders if she intuitively might have known something might be wrong with her baby: ‘I remember thinking, “I haven’t drunk any alcohol, or smoked, or even been in an environment where there was smoke. I’ve taken the right nutritional supplements. If my baby is disabled it will not be my fault.’

Nonetheless, when she gave birth to her 5lb 3oz baby girl, she had no inkling that anything was wrong.

‘I remember thinking, “She has beautiful oval eyes. They look Oriental.” When Robbie cut the cord we both cried with happiness.’

Ten minutes later their joy was abruptly usurped by fear and anxiety.

‘A doctor told us, “I think she has Down’ s Syndrome” and then he just walked away.

‘From that moment I was mourning for the child I hadn’t had. We couldn’t help but selfishly wonder why this had happened to us. We weren’t prepared for it. We couldn’t celebrate. We felt numb and grief-stricken; just devastated.’

Bit by bit, the extent of Taya’s disabilities emerged.

‘Down’s Syndrome babies are born with very poor muscle tone. Taya was more floppy than a rag doll. It was as if she had no bones,’ recalls Gemma.

‘She had a single crease in her palm, a gap between her toes and a flat nose that signals sinus problems. She has deficiencies in her sight and hearing, her bowels and heart.

'Tests showed her heart had two holes in it, but we were told not to worry, that she would be unaffected by the condition. All these things, we knew, were characteristic of Down’s children.

‘We didn’t know what to expect or hope for. We were literally sent home with a booklet. But from that moment I knew I had to fight Taya’s corner, to research everything I could about her condition and do all I could to ensure she would have every chance in life.’

She began by challenging the doctors who insisted she would be unable to breastfeed: ‘They dismissed the idea as soon as Taya was born. They said she could not suckle because Down’s children have over-sized tongues and weak jaw muscles.

‘But I was determined to prove them wrong. For a month I went to a breast-feeding class. I knew it would boost Taya’s weakened immune system if I fed her. It would also help with her speech because it would strengthen her jaw muscles. I wanted to do all I could to give her the best start. In the end I breastfed her for nine months.’

Taya, despite her disabilities, has a sunny disposition.

‘She wakes up with a smile on her face and goes to sleep smiling. She hardly ever cries,’ says her mum. ‘I was worried at first because she was so peaceful.’

And even when, aged two-and-a-half months, Taya was rushed into hospital for an emergency operation to repair the holes in her heart — she spent three days in intensive care, her condition critical — Gemma recalls that she was not only robust and quick to recover, but that her cheerfulness did not falter.

‘With Taya you get the whole package: she has her difficulties, but she is clever, strong and she laughs all the time. She has such an expressive little face. People say, “Don’t you wish she was a normal child?” but without her disability she wouldn’t be Taya, so we wouldn’t change anything about her.’

Gemma is an unashamedly proud mum, and like any other she has taken photos of her baby and charted her development daily in video clips.

Taya, in turn, has learned to pose for the camera. She beams on cue and is always alert and interested. Even so, Gemma had never thought her little girl — beautiful though she is — could be a model.

It was her cousin Eletta, 30, who planted the seed in her mind. Eletta is raising five children, her own three and her nine-year-old twin brothers after her mother died in a car crash.

It was Eletta who proposed Gemma look at the Urban Angels’ website. She liked the ethos of the company, its ethnically-diverse range of models and its philosophy of inclusion. Its list of clients was impressive, too.

It provides children for advertising campaigns for a huge range of companies, from Burberry and Stella McCartney to The White Company and GAP, as well as Sainsbury’s, M&S, ASDA and H&M.

‘It would not have occurred to me to put Taya forward unless Eletta had suggested it,’ says Gemma.

‘But I decided to send a couple of pictures I’d taken on my iPhone. There was an application form to fill in, too. No one asked the question, “Is your child disabled?” So I didn’t mention it.

‘Soon afterwards, I got a call from a woman at the agency who said: “We loved your pictures. Could you come to Manchester with your daughter for a photo shoot?”

‘I thought we had nothing to lose. Mum said, “You should tell them Taya has Down’s”, but I decided not to. I didn’t want her to be chosen as the token disabled child. If she was going to be picked, then it had to be on her own merit.’

And it was quickly evident that Taya loved the camera. The pictures of her, mesmerised by bubbles, chuckling with glee, resplendent in a frothy white dress, are entrancing. I wonder if we will see her one day modelling on a catwalk?

Gemma laughs. ‘Taya is an amazing child,’ she says. ‘I suppose anything is possible.’


What a difference a year makes as warm weather continues... and forecasters say there is no big freeze on the way

-Pub in Yorkshire buried in 16ft of snow this time last year is now serving Caribbean cocktails
-Unusual weather caused by warm air blown up from southern Europe
-Average rainfall in the first two weeks of November was 25mm - less than half than is usual

By Jaya Narain

What a difference a year makes: Hannah May, 5, sits in the garden in Portchester, Hampshire, watering the geraniums today, right. A year ago she was out on her sledge

With plenty of sunshine, blue skies and mild temperatures, winter seems a world away.
But rewind 12 months and the picture was about as different as it could be with early snow and freezing conditions.

This time last year, Hannah Walker was having fun sledging in her garden and building a snowman in Portchester in Hampshire. But this year the five-year-old is watering the geraniums and relaxing in the unusually warm weather that has been with us for weeks.

And on the North Yorkshire moors, regulars at the Lion Inn in Blakey Ridge are enjoying Caribbean cocktails in sharp contrast to last year when they faced the ‘ultimate lock-in’ after the pub became buried under 16ft of snow.

White out: Paul Lawton, head chef at the Lion Inn, digging his way through deep snow near Castleton a year ago today

One year to the day when the big freeze started: The Lion Inn's Paul Lawton raises a cocktail to the warmer weather

One year on: Walkers dress up in hats and coats - but there is no snow in sight at the Lion Inn

Two guests and five workers were stranded by snowdrifts which covered the road and buried cars outside, cutting off any escape from the 16th-century freehouse, which, at an elevation of 1,325ft (404m), advertises itself as the country's fourth-highest pub.

Co-owner Paul Crossland had to put a warning on the Lion Inn's website urging customers not to attempt to reach the pub.

He said: 'This year it's a very different story.

'We're pretty high up and pretty exposed up here but the snow still caught us a little by surprise last year.

'It all seemed to fall within the space of one evening's shift - then the drifts really cut us off.

'We were stuck until about December 6, when we still had plenty of food and drink left but had just about run out of Calor gas for the heating.

'It was fun at first but I prefer this. There's only so much painting and decorating and cleaning you can do.

'I'd rather be out here with a cocktail than breaking my back with a snow shovel in my hands.'

Winter wonderland: Walkers in Castleton on the North Yorkshire Moors on this day last year

Bright autumn day: A year later it is unseasonally mild - and a lot greener in the North Yorkshire Moors

Now weathermen have put their necks on the line and told us there will be no repeat of last year's big freeze - so it might just be the time to stock up on winter woollies, gloves and scarves.

Just days before the beginning of December it is more sultry in Sussex than in Syria.

The weather has been so unseasonably mild that Met Office forecasters say Britain is on course for its warmest ever November, and December won't be much different.

Much of the country has enjoyed unusually warm weather in recent weeks, with the temperatures hitting 18c (64.4f) in parts of the UK.

Many people have yet to reach for the gloves, scarves and thermal vests, and it could be a while before they have to do so.

The Met Office says figures for the month so far reveal the average UK temperature has been 9.4c (48.9f) – the November average is 5.9c (42.6f).

The mean temperature in the South-East and East Anglia – traditionally one of the UK’s warmest regions – has been a balmy 11.2c (52f), which is 4.5c above the usual average.

The average temperature for Middlesex is 11.8, 4.3 degrees warmer than normal.
The Met Office says the unusual weather is caused by warm air blown up from southern Europe. It is also drier than normal.

Average rainfall in the first two weeks of November was 25mm, less than half of what would usually have fallen.

UK weather outlook for today and tomorrow - it is set to remain unseasonably warm but will be wet in the north

Almost like a summer's day: Feeding the ducks at London's Serpentine lake in Hyde Park

Warming to the theme: A grey squirrel sits in fallen leaves in St James's Park in London

Northern Scotland had just 10.9mm of rain during the first two weeks of the month - just one twentieth (six per cent) of the long term average.

Sarah Holland, of the Met Office, said: ‘The warmest November ever recorded in the UK was in 1994, when the average mean temperature was 8.8c (47.8).

'It’s too early to say whether it’s going to be above that, but it looks like it could be one of the warmest.’

She said the weather this weekend would be ‘unsettled’ for much of Britain but that temperatures would remain unusually high.

They could top 13c (55.4f) in Sussex – double the November average and warmer than Damascus in Syria, where the mercury is not expected to rise above 11c (51.8f) this weekend.

And while November has been warm. that is set to continue into December as a repeat of last year's extreme weather looks increasingly unlikely.

Picnic in the park: It has been shorts weather for part of November, with this group enjoying the sun in London's Hyde Park

Stunning display: The autumn hues of leaves stand out as the UK continues to experience unseasonably mild weather

Met Office forecaster Dan Williams said: 'There’s no signal for a repeat of last year's December cold spell.

'Last December saw a very prolonged period with wave after wave of cold spells and snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures.

'But rather than that, it looks like we're in for a mixed, unsettled December this year, with some cold spells but also milder spells.'

Buckingham Palace and the Mall in the heavy snow that brought parts of London to a standstill in the build up to Christmas last year

Last year's Arctic conditions forced flights to be cancelled and made for treacherous driving even on motorways


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