Category Archives: uk news

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Brendan Cox Quits Charity Roles After Sexual Assault Allegations Resurface

The husband of murdered MP Jo Cox has quit two charities set up in her memory after sexual assault allegations from his past resurfaced.

Brendan Cox denied preying on two women while he was married to the late politician, but accepted “inappropriate” behaviour, saying: “I made mistakes and behaved in a way that caused some women hurt and offence.”

Tweeting on Saturday night, Cox said:

He has stepped down from posts at More in Common and the Jo Cox Foundation after the Mail on Sunday published accusations made by a former colleague while they both worked at charity Save the Children in 2015.

Months later, it is alleged he forced himself on a woman during a trip to Harvard University in the US, the Press Association reported.

He claimed allegations against him were a “massive exaggeration”, during an interview with the newspaper.

But he said: “At the root [of the rumours] was a sense, which is fair, that I could overstep the line.”

Jo Cox, a Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was fatally shot and stabbed outside her constituency office by a far-right terrorist during the EU Referendum campaign in 2016.

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Her husband said in a statement on Saturday night: “I want to apologise deeply and unreservedly for my past behaviour and for the hurt and offence that I have caused.

“In the aftermath of Jo’s murder, I promised that I would dedicate my life to two things, firstly loving and protecting our children and secondly fighting the hatred that killed Jo.

“In the last few days allegations from several years ago have resurfaced that makes concentrating on both of those tasks much more difficult.

“For that reason, while away over half-term, I decided to step down from my current public roles for the time being.

“While I do not accept the allegations contained in the 2015 complaint to the police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I do acknowledge and understand that during my time at Save the Children I made mistakes and behaved in a way that caused some women hurt and offence.

“This was never malicious but it was certainly inappropriate.

“In the past I have focused on disputing what I felt was untrue in the allegations, but I realise now that it’s more important to take full responsibility for what I have done.

“I am committed to holding myself to much higher standards of personal conduct in the future.”

The Mail on Sunday claimed Mr Cox drunkenly harassed a female employee at Save the Children in London – allegedly holding her by the throat and making a lurid comment. He left his role at the charity shortly afterwards.

The Coxes married in 2009 and had two children together.

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In an interview with the newspaper, Mr Cox refused to disclose what his wife knew of the allegations, but said: “We never pretended that we had the perfect relationship, or the perfect marriage.

“We had difficult times, we had amazing times, but I’m not going to recount conversations I had with her because she’s not here.”

He conceded that there were “instances” where he made people feel uncomfortable at Save the Children which were viewed as inappropriate, adding: “I think that charge is a fair one.”

He continued: “Certainly, I had too much to drink at times.

“I probably behaved in a way I thought was sort of jokey, or flirtatious. I often wasn’t being serious, but that was perceived differently by others.”

Details of his alleged behaviour at Save the Children comes as charities face intense scrutiny about their handling of sexual exploitation claims.

Oxfam has been plunged into chaos after it emerged that aid workers sent to earthquake-shattered Haiti had used prostitutes in 2011 – an episode the charity is accused of covering up.

A spokesman for the Jo Cox Foundation said: “The board of the Jo Cox Foundation has accepted Brendan Cox’s resignation as trustee.

“Since establishing the Jo Cox Foundation, the trustees and staff have admired the integrity, commitment and dedication that Brendan has shown in our work to create a positive legacy for Jo.

“The Jo Cox Foundation was established in September 2016 to channel the energy and determination generated by Jo’s life and murder into practical efforts to advance the causes she championed.

“The trustees and staff remain committed to continuing this important work and honouring Jo’s life.”

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Swansea Earthquake: Best Reactions After Tremors Felt Across UK

A 4.4 magnitude earthquake hit south Wales on Saturday, causing tremors to be felt across western Britain.

The quake’s epicentre was 10km north east of Swansea, according to monitors EMSC. 

Yet while the earthquake came as a shock to many people, especially as it is the largest quake to hit the area since 1906, many were left feeling underwhelmed – with some even missing the tremors altogether.

Here are some of the best ways Brits reacted to today’s earthquake:

1. Spilled Roses 

2. ‘Send help’

3. Sheep down

4. RIP furniture

5. Spilled tea

6. Survivors T-shirts

7. It’s Brexit’s fault

The BGS said that about 3,000 events of this size take place every year.

Today’s earthquake was the “biggest onshore UK event in 10 years” and 8 million times smaller than the magnitude 9.0 in Japan in March 2011, the BGS said.

People reported feeling the tremor in Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea among other places, with the EMSC estimating 10 million people lived in the area where the quake could be felt.

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Who Is Gerard Batten? MEP Who Called Islam A ‘Death Cult’ Appointed As Ukip’s Interim Leader

Ukip’s interim leader, who once called Islam a “death cult” and proposed that Muslims sign a special code of conduct rejecting violence, has been described as a “disaster” for the party’s political future.

Gerard Batten has taken over from ousted Henry Bolton, who lost his position after nearly two thirds of members backed his sacking at an Extraordinary General Meeting on Saturday.

Batten will be interim leader while a new leadership election is organised in the next 90 days. 

Gerard Batten is Ukip’s interim leader after Henry Bolton was ousted.” alt=”Gerard Batten is Ukip’s interim leader after Henry Bolton was ousted.” data-credit=”PA Archive/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Archive/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.30101688″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

But there are already concerns surrounding his appointment, with anti-racism campaign group Hope not Hate accusing Ukip members of “sounding the death knell for their party”.

So who is Ukip’s interim leader and why is he so contentious?

Here’s everything you need to know: 

Who is Gerard Batten?

The 63-year-old party veteran is a founder of Ukip and is a serving Member of the European Parliament (MEP).

He was first elected as an MEP in 2004 and was selected to stand as the party’s candidate in the 2008 London mayoral election.

He was unsuccessful, receiving just 1.2% of the vote.

What are his views on Islam?

In the wake of the Westminster terror attack, Batten posted a blog in which he called Islam a “death cult”.

“The terrorist attack in Westminster was just the latest in a long line of atrocities committed internationally in the name of Islam,” he wrote.

He then listed the following suggestions:

  • First of all, let’s stop calling it Islam (submission to the will of Allah) and accepting it on its own terms.
  • We should return to calling what the West used to call it: Mohammedanism – the cult of Mohammed – because that is what it is.
  • It is a death cult, born and steeped in fourteen hundred years of violence and bloodshed, that propagates itself by intimidation, violence and conquest.

Batten added in his blog: “A normal non Mohammedan should have a perfectly rational fear of ‘Islam’.”

Batten has also suggested that Muslims sign a special code of conduct rejecting violence and warned that it was a big mistake for Europe to allow “an explosion of mosques across their land”.

A document he commissioned in 2006 called ‘A Proposed Charter of Muslim Understanding’, says that parts of the Qur’an promote “violent physical Jihad”.

The MEP argued that some Muslim texts also required updating, particularly those bits he claimed say “kill Jews wherever you find them”. He said: “If they say they cannot revise their thinking on those issues, then who’s got the problem – us or them?”

Speaking in 2010, Batten pledged to end the building of new mosques in the UK, until and unless a non-Muslim place of worship was built in Mecca. 

Batten also once described far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders as “a brave man trying to defend western civilisation”.

Gerard Batten at the European Parliament.” alt=”Gerard Batten at the European Parliament.” data-credit=”FREDERICK FLORIN via Getty Images” data-portal-copyright=”FREDERICK FLORIN via Getty Images” data-provider=”getty” data-provider-asset-id=”105769223″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

Batten denies that he has ever made comments about Muslims, but anti-racism group Hope not Hate said that his appointment today “sounded the death knell for their party”. 

Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope not Hate, said: “Gerard Batten is… known for his extreme anti-Muslim views and closeness to various figures in anti-Muslim networks across Europe.

“This is a man who calls Islam ‘Mohammedanism’ and ‘a death cult’, for heaven’s sake. His vote is a disaster for any hope UKIP might have of resurrecting its political fortunes.

“The party is now a bad joke, haemorrhaging support and money. However, the bigger threat lies in Nigel Farage and his Leave.EU backer Arron Banks who are eagerly waiting in the wings.

“Farage and Banks are far more capable figures than anything Ukip is likely to offer and likely to hit home hard on anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim messages when they re-enter the political fray, most likely at the helm of a new radical-right political movement.”

But when asked on Saturday whether he intends to take Ukip in the direction of being more anti-Islam, Batten said: “I’ve never made comments about Muslims, I’ve always talked about ideology and the literalist interpretation of that ideology.

“That is a big problem that is facing not just the UK but Europe and the Western world. I will be looking at policies of how we can address that.

“It’s all very well to talk about integration but one of the practical things we should do – our Government should do – straight away, is to stop the foreign funding of mosques and imans by places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who have exported extremist ideology to our country and other countries.”

What has Batten said about Ireland and Brexit? 

Batten was widely criticised last year after he accused Ireland of acting like “the weakest kid in the playground sucking up to the EU bullies” in Brexit talks with the UK over the ongoing border row.

The Ukipper, who also believes the European Union was conceived by Nazi Germany and suggests the Bilderberg Group is a “shadow world government”, insisted on Twitter that the country “relies on the UK for its existence”.

At the time Ukip distanced itself from the comments, with the party’s head of delegation, MEP Ray Finch, telling HuffPost UK in a statement: “Mr Batten’s late night tweets do not reflect UKIP policy or sentiment.

“We wish to maintain free trade and free movement between the North and South of Ireland, full stop.

“The best way to avoid the European Commission imposing a hard border is to create an equal partnership of independent states outside EU.” 

Will Batten stand in the Ukip leadership contest?

Ukip faces its fourth leadership election since the EU referendum in June 2016.

Batten said he has not decided whether or not to stand for the leadership, telling a press conference on Saturday: “I honestly don’t know the answer to that.

“I’ll wait and see how it goes or otherwise over the next few weeks.”

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Horsham Level Crossing Crash: Teenager And Man, 72, From The Same Family Die

A 15-year-old boy and a 72-year-old man, both from the same family, have died after a train crashed into a car at a level crossing in Horsham, West Sussex, on Saturday, police have said.

The two relatives, who are believed to be grandfather and grandson, were travelling in the vehicle when the train crashed into them at the Barns Green level crossing at about 8.40am. 

Teenager and man, 72, from the same family die after crash at Barns Green level crossing.” alt=”Teenager and man, 72, from the same family die after crash at Barns Green level crossing.” data-credit=”Google maps” data-portal-copyright=”Google maps” data-provider=”Other” data-provider-asset-id=”206136245″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

Officers from British Transport Police attended alongside colleagues from Sussex Police and paramedics.

Detective Inspector Brett Walker from BTP said: “This is an extremely tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.

“Our officers have been working at the scene, and will continue to do so for the rest of the day, to ensure we gain as much information about how the collision happened.

“People should expect some disruption to services in the area while we investigate. I would like to thank the community in Barns Green for their support and patience.

“Local people will see more of our officers in the area throughout the day and I would urge anyone who saw what happened, or feels they may have any information which would be relevant to our investigation, to contact us.”

There are no other reported injuries.

Rail services between London and Brighton were disrupted following the crash.

Anyone with info can call BTP on 0800 40 50 40 reference 146 of 17/02/18 or text us on 61016.

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Great Portland Street Fire: More Than 50 Firefighters Tackling Blaze In Central London

More than 50 firefighters are tackling a huge blaze in London’s Great Portland Street.

London Fire Brigade said there are ten fire engines at the building, which is believed to be under construction.

A plume of think, black smoke could be seen across the capital.

London Fire Brigade said on Twitter: “The Great Portland Street fire is in a building under refurbishment. There are a number of gas cylinders involved in the blaze.

“A exclusion zone of 25 metres has been set up, as a precaution, as some cylinders can explode when exposed to heat.”

The Metropolitan Police Service are also at the scene.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Check back for the fullest version. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

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Convicted Killer Michel Fourniret ‘Confesses’ To 1990 Murder Of Briton Joanna Parrish

A convicted serial killer has reportedly confessed to killing a British woman in France 27 years ago.

Joanna Parrish, 21, from Gloucester, was raped and murdered in Auxerre in 1990, while working as an English teacher during her gap year, The Press Association reports.

Convicted rapist and murderer Michel Fourniret, dubbed “the Ogre of the Ardennes”, had for a long time been the prime suspect in the brutal attack on the student.

And according to Parrish’s family lawyer the killer has finally admitted to her murder.

Lawyer Didier Seban told the BBC that over the past week Fourniret had appeared in court “two to three times” and admitted the killing on each occasion.

He added that Fourniret would  now be questioned further, which “should lead to charges”.

Parrish’s father, Roger Parrish, told the broadcaster the confession had come as a ”shock” and that he hoped it was not another “false lead”.

In May 2008, Fourniret was sentenced to life in prison for the joint rape and murder of seven girls.

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7 Questions We Have After Reading The Special Counsel Trump/Russia Indictments

It was another big day in Washington on Friday as the office of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with a criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper in the 2016 US presidential campaign to support Donald Trump and disparage Hillary Clinton.

An indictment said Russians adopted false online personas to push divisive messages; traveled to the United States to collect intelligence; and staged political rallies while posing as Americans.

In one case, it said, the Russians paid an unidentified person to build a cage aboard a flatbed truck and another to wear a costume “portraying Clinton in a prison uniform.”

Intriguing stuff – here are 7 questions we have about the latest in the Trump/Russia saga, starting with an easy one…

MORE FROM REUTERS:

The indictment broadly echoes the conclusions of a January 2017 US intelligence assessment, which found that Russia had meddled in the election, and that its goals eventually included aidingTrump. In November 2016, Trump won a surprise victory over Democratic Party candidate Clinton.

Mueller’s indictment did not tie the meddling effort to the Russian government. But the earlier US intelligence assessment said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the US election.

Trump has never unequivocally accepted the US intelligence report and has denounced Mueller’s probe into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin as a “witch hunt.”

Some of those charged, posing as Americans, “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” the indictment said.

Last year, Mueller charged Trump’s former campaign manager and his deputy with money-laundering and other crimes, and accepted guilty pleas from two former foreign policy aides for lying to the FBI.

Friday’s indictment of the Russians, coupled with the FBI disclosure that it failed to heed a warning about the Florida high school shooter, were blows to the White House, still reeling from the fallout of a scandal involving a former aide accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives.

US stocks had been up over half a percent but lost nearly all of that after the indictment came out.

‘CONSPIRATORS’

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a press conference: “The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

The indictment describes a sophisticated, multi-year and well-funded operation, dubbed “Project Lakhta,” by Russian entities to influence the election, beginning as early as May 2014.

Russians unlawfully used stolen social security numbers and birth dates of Americans to open accounts on the PayPal digital payment platform and to post on social media using those fake identities, the indictment said.

Mueller also on Friday reached an agreement with an American named Richard Pinedo, who pled guilty to aiding and abetting interstate and foreign identity fraud by creating, buying and stealing hundreds of bank account numbers that he sold to individuals to use with large digital payment companies.

According to a source familiar with the indictments, Pinedo is the person cited in the document as helping the Russian conspirators launder money, as well as purchase Facebook ads and pay for rally supplies, through PayPal Holdings Inc..

Pinedo’s attorney, Jeremy I. Lessem, said in a statement that “Mr. Pinedo had absolutely no knowledge of the identities and motivations of any of the purchasers of the information he provided.”

The Russians sought to measure the impact of their online social media operations, tracking the size of US audiences reached through posts and other types of engagement, such as likes, comments and reposts, according to the indictment.

Facebook said in a statement that it had previously disclosed the Internet Research Agency’s activity on its platform. “We know we have more to do to prevent against future attacks,” said Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global policy.

Twitter, whose platform also was used, declined to comment on the indictment.

The Internet Research Agency was registered with the Russian government as a corporate entity in July 2013 and St. Petersburg “became one of the organization’s operational hubs,” for the project, the indictment said.

The organization employed hundreds of people, ranging from creators of fictitious person to technical experts, and by September 2016, its monthly budget was in excess of $1.2 million, the court document said.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he had already seen evidence Russia was targeting US elections in November, when Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate are at stake, plus a host of positions in state governments.

The indictment said the Russians it charged tried to destroy evidence of their crimes.

For example, in September 2017, one of the defendants wrote an email to a family member stating: “We had a slight crisis at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with colleagues.”

The email continued: “I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.”

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Give Workers £10k To Survive Automation, Top Think Tank Suggests

Automation is seen as one of the biggest risks to employment in the coming decades” alt=”Automation is seen as one of the biggest risks to employment in the coming decades” data-credit=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.34703133″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

Britons should be able to bid for £10,000 to help them prosper amid huge changes to their working lives, a leading think tank suggests today.

The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) has released research proposing a radical new sovereign wealth fund, which would be invested to make a profit like similar public funds in Norway.

The returns from the fund would be used to build a pot of money, to which working-age adults under-55 would apply to receive a grant in the coming decade.

Workers will see increased automation in their working lives over the coming decade, according to new research” alt=”Workers will see increased automation in their working lives over the coming decade, according to new research” data-credit=”Darren Staples / Reuters” data-portal-copyright=”Darren Staples / Reuters” data-provider=”reuters” data-provider-asset-id=”RTSYS03″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

People would have to set out how they intend to put the five-figure payouts to good use, for example, by using the cash to undergo re-training, to start a new business, or to combine work with the care of elderly or sick relatives.

It would be funded like the student grant system and wealthier individuals could be required to pay back more in tax as their earnings increase.

Ultimately, the RSA paper suggests, the wealth fund would finance a Universal Basic Income (UBI) as the world of modern work is turned upside down by increased automation, new technology and an ageing population.

The UBI would, the charity says, be best used to reward “good work” rather than simply replace existing benefits.

This proposal is not quite an unconditional model – which replaces all state benefits – currently being tested in Finland.

‘Households vulnerable to shock’

Anthony Painter, Director of the RSA’s Action and Research Centre, said: “Economic insecurity risks becoming the new normal unless we take action: around a third of the workforce today are economically insecure, and many more out of work can seem permanently excluded.

“The simple fact is that too many households are highly vulnerable to a shock in a decade of disruption, with stormclouds on the horizon if automation, Brexit and an ageing population are mismanaged.

“Without a real change in our thinking, neither tweaks to the welfare state nor getting people into work alone, when the link between hard work and fair pay has broken, will help working people meet the challenges ahead.

“Equally though those who advocate a Universal Basic Income must show how it is pro-work rather than post-work, and develop specific ideas to fund it. Our report is an attempt to do exactly that.”

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Roland Van Hauwermeiren, Former Oxfam Chief At Centre Of Alleged Prostitute Scandal, Breaks Silence

The former Oxfam chief accused of hiring prostitutes in Haiti has dismissed the allegations as “lies and exaggerations” and said a “lot of people… will be blushing with shame when they hear my version of the facts”.

Roland van Hauwermeiren also insists he himself dismissed staff for paying for sex and “was nicknamed ‘the terminator’ as I acted so severely in this case”.

But he has admitted certain details that have come to light were accurate.

Roland van Hauwermeiren.” alt=”Roland van Hauwermeiren.” data-credit=”” data-portal-copyright=”” data-provider=”Other” data-provider-asset-id=”206131027″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

He told Belgian newspaper De Standaard: “A lot of people, including in the international media, will be blushing with shame when they hear my version of the facts.

“It is not that I deny everything. There are things that are described correctly. But there are many lies and exaggerations.

“Parties every week? Fancy villas? Women paid with money from the organisation?”

He indicated the revelations had taken a personal toll, telling the paper: “It is especially bad that my family no longer want to see me.”

Van Hauwermeiren has also written an open letter in which he says: ”I’m not a saint, I’m a man of flesh and blood and have made mistakes (not easy to admit), and I am deeply ashamed.”

It comes as International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt was due to meet director-general of the National Crime Agency (NCA) to discuss how they could jointly tackle sexual exploitation and abuse.

The NCA has been “closely monitoring” allegations of overseas abuse and has said it has a range of powers to investigate certain sexual offences committed outside the UK.

Meanwhile, Oxfam said that it was “too early to tell the impact of the crisis” on donations, but revealed 1,270 people cancelled their direct debits between Saturday and Monday – almost double the average of 600 cancellations per month, reports the Press Association.

A spokeswoman added: “We are extremely grateful to all those who continue to support us, those who have made additional gifts, and those who have sent messages of support.

“They are determined that the millions of people that Oxfam helps worldwide every year don’t suffer as a result of the actions of a few.”

In further developments, the charity said it also sacked its Haiti country director last year following allegations of “mismanagement” and “inappropriate behaviour”.

But it stressed the dismissal of Damien Berrendorf, who served as the Oxfam’s country director in Haiti from 2012 to 2017, was “not related to sexual misconduct” and was “not connected to the case in 2011”.

The Charity Commission is expected to set out the terms of its statutory inquiry into Oxfam on Thursday, following an all-day meeting with the charity at its offices in Oxford on Wednesday.

Mordaunt has accused the charity of failing to show moral leadership by not properly informing donors about the actions of its workers and has made clear its public funding could be at risk.

Oxfam received £31.7 million from the UK Government in 2016/17.

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Donald Trump’s Florida Shooting Speech Didn’t Mention Guns

Donald Trump has paid tribute to the 17 victims of yet another mass shooting in the US without mentioning guns and framing the murder of civilians with automatic, military-grade weapons as a mental health issue.

Speaking at the White House, the President described the scene of Wednesday’s massacre as one of “violence, hatred and great evil”.

Trump then called for healing and peace and said his administration would work to improve school safety and address mental illness.

He said: “I want to speak directly to America’s children, especially those who feel lost, alone, confused or even scared.

“I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you and will do anything at all to protect you.”

Trump doubled-down on his assertion that the mass shooting of children in a school with weapons capable of firing 45 rounds a minute, and available online from sites such as CheaperThanDirt.com and in your local Walmart, was a mental health issue.

He did not mention the fact that in February of last year he signed a bill that rolled back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for mentally ill individuals to buy guns.

Nor did he mention any of the things the New York Daily News have diligently been reminding people of over the last 24 hours. 

He added: “We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life that creates deep and meaningful human connections.”

A student of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School making a “deep and meaningful human connection”.‘ alt=’A student of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School making a “deep and meaningful human connection”.‘ data-credit=”MICHELE EVE SANDBERG via Getty Images” data-portal-copyright=”MICHELE EVE SANDBERG via Getty Images” data-provider=”getty” data-provider-asset-id=”918332952″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

Earlier in the day Trump sent a tweet that appeared to place the blame for the shooting partially on the shooter’s “neighbours and classmates”.

A 19-year-old man who had been expelled from the school was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday, after authorities said he unleashed one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.

The ex-student, identified as Nikolas Cruz, walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday and opened fire on students and teachers, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. Police believe he acted alone.

Cruz was expected to appear in court Thursday afternoon for a bond hearing, said Constance Simmons, a spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office.

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