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Koko Camden: Fire engulfs famous music venue

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Media captionOne third of the roof of Koko in Camden was on fire at one point, the London Fire Brigade said

One of London’s most famous music venues has been badly damaged in a blaze.

The dome on the roof of Koko in Camden has been destroyed by fire, according to the London Fire Brigade.

Sixty firefighters helped fight the flames after the blaze broke out just before 21:00 GMT on Monday. No injuries have been reported.

The venue began life as the Camden Theatre in 1900 and has hosted stars including Madonna, Coldplay and Prince.

Station commander Jon Lewis said the fire was brought under control at about 02:30 on Tuesday, adding: “Firefighters’ quick action and hard work in the early stages meant the fire was contained to the roof and saved the rest of the building.”

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Madonna performing at Koko in 2005

Koko owner Olly Bengough said he was “deeply saddened”, adding: “We’ll be doing our best to get the redevelopment of this iconic building back on track.”

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The fire in the building’s roof was brought under control in the early hours of Tuesday

Koko, which was closed for refurbishment, was also previously known as the Camden Palace and Camden Hippodrome and has been one of the capital’s most iconic live music venues for decades.

The Rolling Stones, The Clash and Ed Sheeran are among other star names to have performed at the venue, which is close to Mornington Crescent underground station.

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Opening night at Camden Palace 1981 with Steve Strange (left)

It was reportedly the last venue where AC/DC’s Bon Scott was seen drinking before his death from alcohol poisoning in 1980.

In the early 80s it served as a major venue for the punk and New Romantic scene, with singer Steve Strange of the band Visage holding club nights.

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Oliver Cooper

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About 60 firefighters helped tackle the fire at Koko in Camden High Street

Music lovers have been sharing their Koko memories on Twitter.

Veteran DJ Tony Blackburn who held his legendary soul nights Shakatak also tweeted about the fire.

Koko and the nearby Roundhouse effectively “bookended” Camden’s music scene, according to music writer Carl Allen.

On Twitter, the Roundhouse said it was “really sad” to hear the news about its Camden neighbours.

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said on Monday night: “Heartbreaking watching the Camden Palace/Koko up in flames this evening, a building that holds so many memories and means so much to us in Camden.”

The venue was set to reopen in the spring after a “major state-of-the-art” refurbishment, after the purchase of two adjacent buildings.

An investigation is under way into how the fire started.

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The venue hosted the BBC’s Electric Proms in 2007

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Koko has hosted some of music’s biggest names including Madonna, The Rolling Stones and Prince



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New Year’s Eve: Police warning as UK prepares for 2020

Fireworks explode around the London Eye

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Some 2,000 fireworks will be fired from the London Eye

Police are warning people not to attend New Year celebrations on the River Thames in London without a ticket, as spectators gather to usher in 2020.

More than 100,000 tickets have been bought for Tuesday night’s sold-out fireworks display.

The Metropolitan Police urged those without tickets to watch from home or attend other events in the city.

Firework shows are also to be held in cities including Manchester, Cardiff, Newcastle, Inverness and Nottingham.

And in Edinburgh, the streets are filling up as an estimated 100,000 Hogmanay revellers welcome in the start of a new decade.

Celebrations began on Monday evening with thousands taking part in a pre-Hogmanay torchlight procession..

Ticket-holders who had queued at designated entrances in London rushed to pick out their spots when the gates opened.

In a statement to those visiting London for the celebrations, the Met said it wanted “everyone who comes to London for New Year’s Eve to have a good time”.

However, referencing the fireworks on the Thames, the force added: “If visitors do not have a ticket, entry will not be permitted to the event, so the advice from the Met is to watch the fireworks from the comfort of your home.”

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Media captionLondon counts down to the 2019 New Year fireworks

In London, approximately 12,000 fireworks are set to light up the capital’s skyline when the clock strikes midnight on Tuesday. Roughly 2,000 of the fireworks will be fired from the London Eye, with the remainder coming from barges that will be moored in a central location along the River Thames.

Big Ben’s chimes will sound the start of the display, despite them being silent this year while renovation work is completed.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the the city’s role in hosting several key games in the Euro 2020 football championship would be celebrated.

“We may be leaving the European Union, but we’re not leaving Europe. So tonight’s fireworks celebrate us as a global city, us as a European city,” he added.

He stressed that London and the UK need to be brought “together again” in the 2020s.

“I’m not pretending that fireworks and one night can do that, but I think it’s really important [that] we celebrate, tonight, some great things about our city and our country,” he said.

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In Edinburgh, thousands took part in a pre-Hogmanay torchlight procession on Monday evening

In Edinburgh on Monday night, crowds created a huge “be together” symbol of two people reaching out a hand in friendship in a display of fire art in Holyrood Park.

On New Year’s Eve itself, tens of thousands of people are expected to attend a Hogmany street party featuring acts including Mark Ronson, Marc Almond and Idlewild.

The event covers at least part of more than a dozen streets in the city centre.

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The crowds created a huge “be together” symbol of two people reaching out a hand in friendship

The evening is set to be cold but dry for many, with temperatures in Scotland and parts of northern England forecast to be around 1C (33.8F) or 2C (35.6F), according to the Met Office.

The rest of the UK is likely to see the mercury fall to around 5C (41F).

A yellow weather warning for fog has been issued by the Met Office for parts of north eastern England. The warning is in place from 19:00 GMT on New Year’s Eve until 03:00 GMT on New Year’s Day.

Parts of central England could see some drizzle on Tuesday evening while there may also be patches of fog appearing across the UK, according to Met Office forecaster Greg Dewhurst.

However, it is unlikely that visibility will be poor in either London or Edinburgh, he added.

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Media captionNew Year’s Eve: Bangs and bright lights set off new decade

New Year celebrations have already begun in some parts of the world.

The first places to welcome 2020 included the tiny Pacific island of Kiribati, neighbouring parts of Samoa and the Chatham Islands.

Auckland in New Zealand was the first major city to ring in the new decade, with thousands welcoming 2020 at a fireworks display at the city’s Sky Tower.

The traditional fireworks display in Sydney Harbour also went ahead, despite calls for it to be cancelled due to Australia’s bushfire crisis.

The uninhabited Baker Island and Howland Island, on the other side of the International Date Line, will be the last to leave 2019 behind.

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London’s City Hall provides Christmas meals for homeless

Sadiq Khan hands out food

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Sadiq Khan helped serve 100 Christmas Dinners to guests at City Hall

Christmas dinners have been served to Londoners who are reliant on the city’s homelessness services.

Hairdressers and opticians were also made available at City Hall before guests were given a three-course meal.

Last year, 8,855 people were seen rough sleeping in London, an 18% increase since last year, and more than double the number in 2010.

“Events like this help bring a sense of community back in to London,” Claire, a former rough sleeper, told the BBC.

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Claire said she had been “looking forward” to the Christmas Dinner

Claire, who spent 30 years either living on the streets or in prison, said: “It’s the type of event that does matter. It forms partnerships and builds bonds.

“If it wasn’t for the support of St Mungo’s, I’d either be dead or doing what I was before.”

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Guests were treated to rendition of carols by the London International Gospel Choir

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Around 100 people who use London’s homeless services were invited to City Hall

Guests were chosen from the thousands of Londoners that currently receive assistance from services funded by City Hall and delivered by charities St Mungo’s and Thames Reach.

But Claire said services were still “hit and miss”.

“Where I live I’m still waiting for support with my mental health,” she added.

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Sadiq Khan said “it is shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do”

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Guests were given a three-course Christmas Dinner

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “St Mungo’s and Thames Reach are struggling with finances.

“Since I became mayor we’ve more than doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on rough sleeping and the size of our outreach team.

“But we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve not got the money or the resources to do much more – as it is I’m criticised for going outside my remit and my power.

“It is both heartbreaking and shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do.”

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Free opticians services were put on by charity Humanity First

Last year 15,470 people were accepted as being homeless by London councils.

There were 55,000 families living in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts and hostels.

Hundreds more people are estimated to be sleeping on London’s night buses.

Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo’s, said: “It’s wonderful that the Mayor has opened the doors of City Hall for this festive event.

“Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions for clients in our services and our staff work hard to support those who stay with us over the holiday period.”

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Black cab rapist John Worboys given two life sentences

John Worboys

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Met Police

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John Worboys was jailed in 2009 for a string of sex attacks on women in his taxi

Black cab rapist John Worboys has been handed two life sentences with a minimum term of six years for attacking four more women.

The 62-year-old, who is now known as John Radford, was jailed in 2009 for assaults on 12 women in London.

The four victims came forward after a public outcry caused by a Parole Board ruling that he was safe to be freed.

Sentencing Worboys, Mrs Justice McGowan said she did not know when “if ever you will cease to be a risk”.

In 2009, Worboys was locked up indefinitely for the public’s protection with a minimum term of eight years after being found guilty of 19 sex offences against 12 women between 2006 and 2008.

In January 2018, the Parole Board said Worboys would be freed after serving 10 years but victims challenged the decision.

That decision was later overturned by the High Court, leading to a review of the decision where the Parole Board decided Worboys must remain in jail.

Among the reasons given for refusing Worboys parole were his “sense of sexual entitlement” and a need to control women.

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Media captionBecki Houlston told the BBC that Worboys drugged her in Bournemouth

Prosecutor Duncan Penny QC told the Old Bailey that psychiatrist Philip Joseph found Worboys had been “fantasising” about attacking women since 1986.

A probation report in August this year found “he is potentially just as dangerous now as the point of the first sentence”.

After the four women came forward, Worboys, of Enfield, admitted two charges of administering a drug with intent to commit rape or indecent assault.

He also pleaded guilty to two further charges of administering a substance with intent to commit a sexual offence.

Mr Penny said the first victim was targeted in 2000 or early 2001 after a night out at a wine bar in Dover Street in Soho.

The second victim, a university student living in north London, was picked up after a night out with friends at a club on New Oxford Street in 2003.

Worboys’ third victim was picked up after a night out on King’s Road in 2007 where he told her he had won £40,000 at a casino and offered her champagne.

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Worboys would win victims’ trust before pouring them a glass of drug-laced alcohol

The court heard Worboys told the fourth victim he had won the lottery and offered her and her friend miniature bottles of champagne.

Mr Penny said: “She woke up in bed the following morning. The bedclothes had not moved and her hands were crossed over her chest, which was unusual.

“She was sufficiently unnerved to check herself. There were no visible signs she had been touched.”

Mr Penny told the court: “The consistent themes throughout, together with the content of what took place, seems to be the profound effect not knowing what happened has had in each of these women throughout their lives, as a result of having been unfortunate enough to get into the defendant’s black cab.”

Analysis

Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent

If an offender tells lies, does that increase their risk of committing harm? That’s the key issue at the heart of this case.

John Worboys lied to psychologists before his parole hearing in 2017, giving a carefully-crafted account that tallied only with the crimes he’d been convicted of.

He was assessed as safe to be released from prison. But, when more victims came forward Worboys changed his story.

Despite this Dr Jackie Craissati, an experienced clinical forensic psychologist, told the court she believes Worboys poses a low risk of sexual reoffending.

She says she doesn’t expect offenders to give “truthful and full” accounts of their behaviour when assessing how dangerous they are.

The judge clearly did not agree, and many others may baulk at the idea that someone who can’t be trusted to tell the truth about their crimes can nevertheless be trusted in the community.

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Met Police

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The black cab used by Worboys in his attacks

Police believe Worboys may have carried out more than 100 rapes and sexual assaults on women in London.

Becki Houlston, who has waived her right to anonymity, said Worboys drugged her in Bournemouth.

“He was pretty pre-meditated from the get-go, and I was a woman on my own,” she told the BBC.

“He is highly manipulative and relentless. It becomes easier to just accept a drink to shut him up.”

In Ms Houlston’s case, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

Reacting to the sentencing, the CPS’s Tina Dempster said: “John Worboys is a dangerous predator who still poses a clear threat to women.”

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GP Manish Shah guilty of sex assaults on 23 female patients

Manish Shah

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Manish Shah worked as a family planning specialist

A GP who cited Angelina Jolie and Jade Goody to instil fear in his patients about their health has been found guilty of sexually assaulting 23 women.

Manish Shah preyed on cancer concerns to carry out invasive intimate examinations for his own sexual gratification, the Old Bailey heard.

He convinced his victims to have unnecessary checks between May 2009 and June 2013.

He was convicted of 25 counts of sexual assault and assault by penetration.

Jurors acquitted 50-year-old Shah, of Romford, of five other charges.

They were told afterwards he had already been found guilty of similar allegations relating to 17 other women, bringing the total number of victims to 23.

He will be sentenced for all the offences on 7 February. The BBC’s health editor Hugh Pym said it was one of the biggest cases of its kind involving one doctor.

‘Took advantage’

The trial heard Shah mentioned a news story to one patient about Hollywood star Jolie having a preventative mastectomy, before asking if she would like him to examine her breasts.

In another instance involving a different complainant, he mentioned TV personality Goody – who died of cervical cancer – and advised an examination was in her best interests, it was claimed.

Prosecutor Kate Bex QC told the trial: “He took advantage of his position to persuade women to have invasive vaginal examinations, breast examinations and rectal examinations when there was absolutely no medical need for them to be conducted.”

One of Shah’s patients told the BBC how she became one of the GP’s victims.

“He would say you need to have these sexual health tests, to make sure you’re safe – you never know if somebody goes with somebody else even though you might have a safe partner,” she said.

“He was just encouraging the tests along when I didn’t think anything of it, I thought if a doctor suggests it you pretty much go along with it.

“He just duped so many people. He used our weaknesses and fears and took complete advantage. But not one time did I actually think he was doing anything untoward.”

The NHS in London said it “extended sympathies” to the victims and added: “As soon as the allegations came to light, swift action was taken and we have supported the police throughout their investigation.”

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London Bridge: Family of Usman Khan ‘shocked’ by attack

Emergency vehicles in London Bridge

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The family of London Bridge attacker Usman Khan have said they are “saddened and shocked” by what happened and “totally condemn his actions”.

In a statement, they expressed their condolences to the victims’ families

Khan, who was convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012, killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, at a prisoner rehabilitation event on Friday.

Separately, a porter who tried to fight Khan said he was coming to terms with the incident.

Lukasz, who works at the Fishmongers’ Hall venue where Khan began his attack, said he “acted instinctively” by grabbing a pole to try to stop Khan.

Usman Khan’s family said in a statement issued through the Met police: “We are saddened and shocked by what Usman has done.

“We totally condemn his actions and we wish to express our condolences to the families of the victims that have died and wish a speedy recovery to all of the injured.

“We would like to request privacy for our family at this difficult time.”

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Media captionWhat happened at London Bridge?

Lukasz, who was among those praised for his bravery during the attack, also issued a statement through Scotland Yard.

“When the attack happened, I acted instinctively. I am now coming to terms with the whole traumatic incident and would like the space to do this in privacy, with the support of my family,” he said.

The statement confirmed Lukasz was stabbed by Khan and taken to hospital but has now returned home.

“I would like to express my condolences to the families who have lost precious loved ones. I would like to send my best wishes to them and everyone effected by this sad and pointless attack,” he added.

Lukasz said, contrary to some reports, that he had used a pole to tackle Khan while someone else used a narwhal tusk in an attempt to stop the attack.

Two women were also injured in the attack before Khan was shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge – the women remain in a stable condition in hospital.

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West Midlands Police

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Usman Khan had been jailed in 2012

Khan, 28, was arrested in December 2010 and sentenced in 2012 to indeterminate detention for “public protection” with a minimum jail term of eight years after pleading guilty to preparing terrorist acts.

He had been part of an al-Qaeda inspired group that considered attacks in the UK, including at the London Stock Exchange.

But in 2013 the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence, replacing it with a 16-year-fixed term, and ordered Khan to serve at least half this – eight years – behind bars.

Since his subsequent release in December 2018, Khan had been living in Stafford and was required to wear a GPS police tag.

He was armed with two knives and was wearing a fake suicide vest during the attack at Fishmongers’ Hall on Friday.

He was tackled by members of the public, including ex-offenders from the conference, before he was shot dead by police.

It comes as Leanne O’Brien, the girlfriend of Cambridge University Mr Merritt who was killed, paid tribute to her partner on Facebook writing: “My love, you are phenomenal and have opened so many doors for those that society turned their backs on.”

Ms O’Brien was seen breaking down in tears as she and Mr Merritt’s family gathered at a vigil in Cambridge on Monday to remember the victims.

Mr Merritt’s father, David, also wrote a piece in the Guardian dedicated to his “absorbingly intelligent” and “fiercely loyal” son.

Also killed was Ms Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, who was a volunteer on the Learning Together programme, which was holding an anniversary event where the event took place.

She has been described as a “lovely, lovely woman” who was “fearless” by her former tutor.

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Met Police

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Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones were both involved with the Learning Together programme, which was holding an event when the attack took place

Friday’s attack sparked a political row over the release of Khan and a debate over the criminal justice system.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of “trying to exploit” the attack “for political gain”.

He blamed Khan’s release on legislation introduced under “a leftie government”, and called for longer sentences and an end to automatic release.

Mr Johnson denied claims he was politicising the attack, saying he had campaigned against early release for some time, having previously raised the issue during his 2012 campaign to be mayor of London.

He said he felt “a huge amount of sympathy” for the relatives of the victims.

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Met Police superintendent sentenced over indecent video

Dido Massivi, Jennifer Hodge and Novlett Robyn Williams

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Julia Quenzler

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Supt Novlett Robyn Williams (right) was on trial with her sister Jennifer Hodge and Dido Massivi (left)

A senior police officer convicted of possessing a child abuse video on her phone has been told she faces “immense” career consequences.

A court heard Novlett Robyn Williams failed to report her sister for sending the “disturbing” clip last year.

While jurors at the Old Bailey accepted Williams did not view the material, they rejected her claim she was unaware of its presence on her phone.

She was ordered to carry out 200 hours’ community service.

Williams had denied the charge, saying she “zoned out” when she received the video.

The jury was told she was one of 17 people to receive the 54-second clip via WhatsApp, and prosecutors had argued there was no way she could have missed its arrival in her inbox.

They said a response sent to her older sister Jennifer Hodge, saying “please call”, was evidence that she wanted to discuss the content.

Judge Richard Marks QC, sentencing, told the Old Bailey her “grave error of judgement” was likely to have “immense” career consequences.

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Supt Williams, pictured with London mayor Sadiq Khan, was highly commended for her work helping families affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster

The court heard Williams, who was commended for her work after the Grenfell Tower disaster, had an exemplary disciplinary record, was highly regarded for her work and was awarded the Queen’s Policing Medal for distinguished service in 2003.

Judge Marks told her it was “completely tragic you found yourself in the position you now do” considering her “stellar career in the police force over 30 years”.

She was cleared of a charge of corrupt or improper exercise of police powers in failing to report the distribution of an image.

As the prosecuting barrister, Richard Wright QC, noted, this is a “sad” case for all those involved, particularly for Robyn Williams who could well lose the job she cherishes.

She was the only one to be prosecuted of the 17 people who received the child abuse video.

Two individuals reported it, but no action was taken against the other 14, raising concerns among her supporters that she’s been unfairly targeted.

Did it have to end up in a trial at the Old Bailey? Or could the superintendent have been dealt with through internal misconduct procedures, given her 36 years’ distinguished service?

There is also a wider question for all of us about our legal responsibilities when we’re sent material on social media that we haven’t asked for.

This case has demonstrated the risks of not reporting and deleting footage that contains illegal content.

Williams’ sister Jennifer Hodge, 56, of Brent, was ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service having been found guilty of distributing an indecent image of a child.

The social worker had denied sending the video, which she received from her partner and allegedly depicted a young girl performing a sex act on a man.

Her barrister Andrea Brown also told the court the conviction had “destroyed her relationship” with her police officer sister, who is her only immediate family member.

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Supt Novlett Robyn Williams had denied all the charges

Hodge’s partner Dido Massivi, 61, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended for two years as well as 200 hours of community service.

The bus driver had denied two counts of distributing indecent photos and one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image portraying a person having sex with a horse.

Prosecutors said there was no suggestion the defendants derived any sexual gratification from the images but all three will be placed on the sex offenders’ register – Hodge and Williams for five years, and Massivi for 10.

Both Hodge and Massivi were also sacked from their jobs following their arrest, the court heard.

Scotland Yard said Williams remains on restricted duties but that would be “reviewed now criminal matters are complete”.

‘Stunned and shocked’

Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matthew Horne said: “The Independent Office for Police Conduct is carrying out an independent misconduct investigation into the actions of Supt Williams and we await the outcome.”

The National Black Police Association said it was “stunned and shocked” by the 54-year-old’s sentence, calling it “institutional racism”.

“She receives this perverse outcome despite being the only one of 17 recipients of this vile video who did not view it”, it said.

But Internet Watch Foundation, a UK charity responsible for finding and removing online child sexual abuse, described the officer’s conviction as “a salutary reminder of what people should do in these situations if they stumble across images or videos of child sexual abuse”.

The Police Superintendents’ Association said it had “supported Supt Williams throughout this process and will continue to do so as her legal team considers an appeal”.

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Met officer guilty of possessing indecent child video

Dido Massivi, Jennifer Hodge and Novlett Robyn Williams

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Julia Quenzler

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Supt Novlett Robyn Williams (right) was on trial with her sister Jennifer Hodge and Dido Massivi (left)

A senior Metropolitan Police officer has been found guilty of possessing an indecent image of a child.

Supt Novlett Robyn Williams was sent a “disturbing” video by her sister Jennifer Hodge last year, but failed to report her, a court heard.

Hodge, 56, and her partner Dido Massivi, from whom she had received the video, were both found guilty at the Old Bailey of distributing an indecent image of a child.

All had denied the charges.

Williams also faced a charge of corrupt or improper exercise of police powers in failing to report the distribution of an image, but was cleared of this.

Massivi, 61, was found guilty of two counts of distributing indecent photos and guilty of possessing an extreme pornographic image.

Williams, 54, from south London, was one of 17 people sent the video by social worker Hodge, from Brent, in February 2018, the court heard.

Massivi previously told the jury he sent the video to his long-term partner “for awareness” after a colleague sent it to him.

Hodge said she threw her phone “in the shock of it” when she opened the video and sought to speak to her sister, who “might know a little bit more than [her]” about getting it taken down.

Her sister, however, claimed she had never seen the video.

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PA

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Supt Williams, pictured with London mayor Sadiq Khan, was highly commended for her work helping families affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster

The Met officer, who was highly commended for her work helping families affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster, told the court she had “zoned out” when she received it.

But prosecutors said there was no way Williams could have missed the 54-second clip, and cited a response from the officer to her older sister to “please call” as evidence that she wanted to discuss the content.

Police were alerted by another recipient, rather than Williams, who as a senior police officer had an obligation to report it, the jury heard.

Prosecutor Richard Wright QC previously told jurors it was not suggested the defendants had any sexual interest in the video that showed a five-year-old girl engaging in a sex act with a man.

Instead, he said, “each of them made serious errors of judgment about how to handle this video”.

Sentencing will be held on 26 November.

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Kiko Casilla: Leeds United goalkeeper given extra time to respond to racism allegations

Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla has been an ever-present for the Championship side this season

Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla been granted extra time to respond to allegations that he racially abused Charlton Athletic’s Jonathan Leko.

The FA began an investigation last month into the incident, which occurred during Charlton’s 1-0 win in September.

The Spaniard, 33, allegedly used words that “made reference to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin”.

He had been due to respond by Tuesday, 12 November, but now has until Wednesday, 27 November.

Leeds issued a statement when Casilla was charged