from BBC News for Staffordshire

Port Vale striker Tom Pope has been given a one-match suspension for improper comments made on Twitter, the Football Association has announced.The 34-year-old has also been fined £1,500 after a breach of FA Rule E3 was found proven by an independent panel.BBC Radio Stoke reports the charge is unrelated to the investigation into a social media post earlier this month, which some alleged to be anti-Semitic.

In November, Pope was given a one-game ban relating to his social media use.As a result of his latest suspension, Pope will miss Saturday’s League Two match away at leaders Swindon Town.Pope also made the news with a tweet he posted last summer mocking John Stones.The former Crewe, Rotherham and Bury striker claimed he would score 40 goals every season if he played against the Manchester City and England defender every week – a prediction he revised to 50 goals per season after scoring against City in the FA Cup third round on 4 January.

A police officer was hurt when a vehicle failed to stop and collided with four cars in Staffordshire.The white BMW was on Ludgate in Tamworth on Tuesday afternoon when officers attempted to stop it. The car was then in collision with with a red Vauxhall Corsa, a white VW Golf and two police cars, police said.The male Staffordshire Police officer was taken to hospital with head and neck injuries. Two men from Birmingham were arrested at the scene.A 35-year-old was arrested on suspicion of failing to stop, dangerous driving and being concerned in the supply of class A drugs. He remains in custody. A 34-year-old was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and was later released under investigation pending further enquiries, the force added.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone

A community hospital is to close after plans were approved by health bosses.Cheadle Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent will shut and outpatient services will be provided by four “hubs”, with beds at Haywood Hospital and care homes.The changes will ensure “high quality care”, Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said.But concerns have been raised about the impact of the closure on patients.The closure will see community hospital beds reduced to 132 across Staffordshire – down from 264 in 2014 – with 77 at Haywood Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, and 55 at local care homes.As well as Haywood Hospital, the other integrated care hubs will be in Longton, Leek and Newcastle-under-Lyme.Latest news from the West MidlandsFrank Lovatt, who takes his wife to Cheadle for arthritis treatment, said it was “a worry”.”They haven’t taken the people into consideration, it’s all about cost,” he said.Senior nurse Claire Grey told BBC Radio Stoke she was concerned care homes would not provide enough support for rehabilitation.Encouragement to do things such as walk to the dining room, she said, “isn’t there in the same way as it might be in a nurse-led ward where rehabilitation is the goal”.Marcus Warnes, accountable officer for the CCGs, said changes needed to be made as the current community provision was “out-of-date and in need of reform and we have been trying to address this for years”.A date for the closure of Cheadle Hospital has not yet been announced.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone

Campaigners say men are increasingly using the “rough sex” defence to try to get away with murdering women. They want the law changed to prevent such a defence and have the support of two MPs. But what difference would it make?The death of British backpacker Grace Millane provoked an outpouring of anger and disgust, not only because of the circumstances in which she lost her life, but because of how her killer tried to explain away her death.He told police that Ms Millane had asked to be strangled during sex, and her death was an accident. Personal details about the 22-year-old’s sex life and apparent interest in BDSM were then discussed in court, and duly reported on by the world’s media. Commentators believed she was being “slut-shamed” and blamed for her own death.Ms Millane, from Wickford in Essex, was murdered in New Zealand, but back home in England former solicitor general Harriet Harman wants the law changed to stop men from being able to use the defence of “rough sex gone wrong” – even if the death is a genuine accident. They should always be prosecuted for murder, the Labour MP believes, and it is “his bad luck” if a man accidentally kills his partner during sex.”The new version of men being able to blame the woman they killed for her own death is by saying ‘she wanted the violence’,” Ms Harman told Woman’s Hour. “And the difficulty is that there were two people there and only one of them gets to speak because he has killed her, and therefore her version of events is not heard.”This defence offered by Ms Millane’s killer was rejected, and he was convicted of her murder. But, still, the case has led to increased concerns about men using the so-called “Fifty Shades of Grey” defence in murder trials.How common is ‘rough sex’?It’s very common, a survey published in November suggests.Commissioned by BBC Radio 5 live, it asked 2,002 UK women aged between 18 and 39 if they had experienced various acts during sex.The majority (59%) had experienced slapping, 38% had experienced choking, 34% had experienced gagging, 20% had experienced spitting and 59% had experienced biting. Almost half of the women (44%), said these acts were always wanted.However, 29% said they were unwanted some of the time, 14% said they were unwanted most of the time, and 10% said they were unwanted every time.The Centre for Women’s Justice said the figures showed a “growing pressure on young women to consent to violent, dangerous and demeaning acts”, which was “likely to be due to the normalisation of extreme pornography”.But one 28-year-old woman, who spoke to the BBC anonymously, said the feeling of domination that came with choking was “a pretty common sexual fantasy”.”Sometimes, during sex, my partner will put his hands around my throat, or hold me down by my throat,” she said. “It is never so hard that I cannot breathe at all. “Whether you know each other well or not, when a person asks a sexual partner to be rough or to choke them, they are asking them to take on responsibility for their safety.”If you have any doubts about your ability to keep them safe, you say no. Once you’ve agreed, there’s a line between consensual rough sex and dangerous abuse and you need to be able to communicate where that is throughout, verbally or non-verbally.”A person who asks for rough sex does not intend to die so when they do it is down to, at the very least, the negligence of the other person.”If you are trying not to kill someone, you won’t kill them. It is only through failing to try not to, or actually trying to kill them that you will.”So how dangerous is choking during sex?It’s potentially deadly, according to pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton – although he points out the risks should be obvious.Choking is “inherently dangerous” because compression of the blood vessels causes a lack of blood flow to the brain, he said. “With pressure on the neck, normally you become unconscious quite quickly.”It’s not for me to pass a view on what people do in the privacy of their own homes – personally I wouldn’t fancy it – but be very well aware that it is a dangerous thing to do.”So if you are in your right mind and your partner stops breathing, a jury could reasonably infer that the logical thing to do would be to stop strangling them and say, ‘Are you all right, pet?’ rather than maintaining pressure on an unresponsive human being for another few minutes,” he said.In terms of establishing whether there was intent to cause serious harm, he said cases like this could be challenging.Dr Hamilton, who examined the body of Charlotte Teeling after she was strangled by Richard Bailey during sex, said it was difficult to tell through forensic examination whether or not there was an intention to kill.”As a pathologist, the physical findings are that somebody has been strangled to death,” he said. “If you strangle someone deliberately in order to kill them or if you’ve seen something on the internet and decide to give it a go and it goes horribly wrong, the physical findings aren’t going to be all that different.”We don’t know what the deliberations are in the jury room, but I think the fact he [Richard Bailey] had left the body in his flat for a week and used her [Charlotte Teeling’s] bank card after she died probably swayed the jury’s mind.”Why do campaigners think the law should be changed?The group We Can’t Consent To This has collated 59 examples of women “killed by men who claim a sex game, gone wrong” and, along with Ms Harman, is demanding that the rough sex defence should be outlawed. The group’s numerous supporters include the Guardian newspaper and women’s magazine Grazia. When Grazia asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the proposal, he said: “I agree with Harriet Harman that the ’50 Shades defence’ is unacceptable and we’ll make sure the law is clear on this.”The campaign also has the support of Mark Garnier, the Conservative MP for Wyre Forest, who started looking at the issue because of the Natalie Connolly case.Ms Connolly – whose parents live in the MP’s constituency – was left to die by her boyfriend John Broadhurst after what he said had been consensual sex.She was left bleeding and suffered more than 40 injuries. Broadhurst was sentenced to less than four years in prison for her manslaughter.How might the law be altered?What campaigners want is to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill currently going through Parliament, to make it the expectation that murder charges are brought against those suspected of killing a person during sex.As it stands, if someone kills another person during sexual activity they could be charged with manslaughter alone. To murder someone, there needs to have been an intention to kill that person or to cause them grievous bodily harm (GBH).”If the prosecuting barrister wants to reduce the [murder] charge because they feel they are more convinced they will get a conviction [of manslaughter], that would have to be agreed by the director of public prosecutions,” said Mr Garnier. He believes this could have made a difference in the prosecution of John Broadhurst.”We were worried that the prosecuting barrister didn’t show a significant amount of nerve or braveness in terms of prosecuting the full case of murder,” he said. “We want to make sure that administrative change within the law is done so that this can’t happen again, so that someone like Natalie’s killer is not let off with a lesser charge.”A second amendment backed by campaigners is to do with people consenting to being injured.In the late 1980s, in a case known as R v Brown, the UK’s highest court ruled that consent was not a defence to actual bodily harm (ABH). The judgement concluded a case in which a group of men had willingly submitted to whippings and beatings, for sexual satisfaction. Evidence had only come to light because the men had videotaped the acts.What Ms Harman wants is for this to be written into the bill going through Parliament.”R v Brown is in case law but bearing in mind we’ve got a new Domestic Abuse Bill, it would be right to put it in statute law,” she said. “Statute law is much more under the noses of the judiciary and the prosecutors and the defence.”But barristers are cautious.”Kneejerk” legislation that is a response to prominent campaigning, risks “creating bad, unworkable” laws that fail to protect the public, said Caroline Goodwin QC, chairwoman of the Criminal Bar Association.So does the law really need to change?Dr Samantha Pegg, who lectures at Nottingham Law School on criminal law regarding sadomasochism (S&M), thinks not.She believes what is being proposed would change nothing in practice, but merely “clarify” the existing law.”At the moment it’s no defence at all to say that person is consenting, because of Brown. People certainly can’t consent to being killed, they can’t consent to injury which amounts to actual bodily harm if it’s in the course of S&M.”Dr Pegg said the changes would not prevent defendants from claiming they killed someone accidentally through rough sex.”It won’t stop people making these claims,” she said. “It does seem over the last year or so that there has been absolutely a significant shift and people do seem to be using that excuse of sadomasochism. It might just be that shift in culture and they think a jury might believe them, or in fact it might be true. But we can’t stop them doing that.”Rosina Cottage QC, a barrister at Red Lion Chambers, agrees. “The changes will not affect the ability of a defendant to run a defence of lack of intent to murder and nor will they assist those campaigning for the protection of people from sexual violence,” she said.And in any case, Dr Pegg said defendants were not necessarily getting away with murder by using this defence. “It’s not an excuse that a jury is necessarily going to buy into,” she said. “They [jurors] are going to have to look at the facts and decide whether there is some truth in this matter or whether they [the accused] are just trying to buy into social constructions of people engaging in these kinds of activities.”What if someone does die in a genuine accident?Ms Harman believes a man should always be prosecuted for murder even if his sexual partner consented to the violence, and even if the man did not intend to kill her or cause her GBH.”I mean if he’s squeezing her neck and saying ‘but actually she was saying more, more’ well it’s murder, because he’s intending to squeeze her neck and that’s the actions which caused her death,” the MP said.But what if the man did not intend to harm the woman by strangling her? “Well that’s his bad luck,” she said. “He is intending to put his hands on her windpipe.”However, barristers who spoke to the BBC have concerns about this.Abimbola Johnson, of 25 Bedford Row, said: “The law makes the distinction [between murder and manslaughter] because murder charges are, rightly, reserved for instances when someone deliberately and intentionally causes someone at least serious harm which results in their death.”Rosina Cottage QC said: “To deprive an individual of the defence to murder is an extreme measure and should only be undertaken after a wide-ranging and considered discussion about the ramifications.”Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman believes removing the right to such a defence would be “a horrendous intrusion into human rights and freedoms”.”I’m really concerned that there is a risk that people may die through consensual rough sex, and the person responsible did not intend for that person to die – it was just a dreadful accident that ruined people’s lives – and they should not be punished in the same way as someone who deliberately preys on victims that they find on Tinder,” he said.Author and journalist Rebecca Reid, who has written about her experiences with BDSM, believes that while the “sex game gone wrong” claim can be a “hastily pieced-together excuse when a woman has been murdered”, rough sex between consenting couples can be a real risk.In an age when BDSM practices are more mainstream, she argues that some people need better education about how to stay safe. But rough sex did not kill Ms Millane, she stressed.”The difficulty is that it feels like people who have nothing to do with BDSM are appropriating it to try and get away with some vicious and evil behaviour, which is really sad for a community that has spent a long, long time fighting for some recognition and a right to exist in an authentic way,” she said.”The important thing with the Grace Millane case is that it was not that he was a well-intentioned young man trying to please his new fling who accidentally got it wrong. This isn’t a case of people emulating what they’ve seen in porn and making honest mistakes.””This was calculated murder.”If you have been affected by sexual abuse or violence, help and support is available at BBC Action Line.

A couple were left “shocked” when they found four immigrants inside their horse box after they travelled back to England from France.Sue and Jeremy Riches, from Pattingham, Staffordshire, had stopped at their son’s house in Marlborough, Wiltshire, when they made the discovery.The four Sudanese men have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences, the Home Office said.Three are minors who have been passed to social services, it added.The fourth has been transferred to an immigration removal centre while his case is dealt with, it added.Police were called by Mr and Mrs Riches to London Road in Marlborough at about 09:00 GMT. They were bringing back furniture to the UK, having recently sold a house in France. “We had just unloaded part of the trailer and I was looking to see what I should do next and suddenly two immigrants appeared which is a really horrible fright when it first happens,” Mrs Riches said.”Then there were two more in the back of the trailer hiding underneath bin liners.”They looked absolutely exhausted and they were just standing with their heads down.” They said they had placed tamper proof tape and fastenings on the trailer, and raised concerns with officials in Caen, France, that the seals may have been damaged.The trailer was checked by security, Mr Riches said, but the couple were told there was “nothing there” and allowed to continue their journey.The Home Office said all the cases will be dealt with according to immigration rules.

Wales international Joe Allen says he does not expect to leave Stoke City during the January transfer window.Allen who joined the Potters from Liverpool for £13m in July 2016, is a reported target for Premier League strugglers West Ham.Stoke manager Michael O’Neill insisted the 29-year-old midfielder would not be leaving the Championship club this month.

“I think I’ll be here as far as I know,” Allen told BBC Radio Stoke.”You know what January is like for every player, the rumours are flying about, but nothing’s happened that I’m aware of.”There’s a huge job to be done here at Stoke and the great thing from an individual point of view is that the team seems to be making progress and going in the right direction.”There’s been ups and downs since I’ve been here and I can’t get away from that.”But honestly I’ve loved pretty much every minute and always enjoy representing the club and playing for the team and I doubt that will ever change.”Stoke moved four points above the Championship’s relegation zone with an impressive 1-0 win at leaders West Bromwich Albion on Monday.Allen’s eyes on Swansea gameAllen and Stoke now turn their attention to Saturday’s league home league game against his former club Swansea City, who they beat 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium in October.”It’s a fixture I obviously keep an eye out on,” Allen said.”It’s great going into it with the confidence and self-belief rising in the group.”We’ve got a little unbeaten run at home which hopefully we can add on with a victory.”We’ve formed a little bit of a gap now between the teams below us and putting a bit of heat on a couple of the teams just above.”Saturday’s another good opportunity to keep the pressure on those other teams and hopefully well away from the trouble below us.”

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Network Rail is being investigated over its poor service on routes used by troubled train operators Northern and TransPennine Express.The government-owned firm has been put “on a warning” for routes in the North West and central region of England, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said.The regulator said it was “not good enough” in those areas and was probing Network Rail’s contribution to delays.Network Rail apologised for “very poor service” in the Midlands and the North. ORR said its performance deteriorated in 2018 and “failed to substantially recover during 2019”.Northern passengers have faced rail chaos since new timetables were introduced in May 2018, prompting the government to warn the firm it could lose its franchise over “unacceptable delays”.In December, commuters using TransPennine Express and Northern trains faced more delays as the new winter timetables were launched.TransPennine Express announced a number of cancellations on routes until the end of January – including cuts to services between Liverpool and Edinburgh that stop at cities including Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.ORR chief executive John Larkinson, said: “The top priority for passengers is that their train arrives on time and that isn’t happening consistently enough across the country. “ORR is responsible for looking at how Network Rail contributes to train delays, and while there are areas of very good performance such as in Wales and Western region, Network Rail’s performance in North West and Central region is not good enough.”That is why we are putting the company on a warning to make sure its improvement plans deliver for passengers.”The ORR is to investigate Network Rail’s recovery plan and whether the organisation is doing “all it reasonably can to improve service for passengers”.The regulator added it had also analysed the recent poor performance by TransPennine Express and found it was “largely the result of train operations”.AnalysisBBC Transport correspondent, Tom BurridgePerformance on Northern, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Railways has been repeatedly poor. The government has threatened to strip Northern of its franchise. But more than half of delays on the entire UK rail network are down to problems with the infrastructure – like signalling. Now the Office of Rail and Road says it will investigate the work done by Network Rail to try to improve performance in the north of England last year, work which ultimately did not yield positive results. Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines told passengers: “We have let you down.”He said: “For too many months, passengers – particularly in the Midlands and the North – have been coping with very poor train services.”It simply isn’t good enough and, on behalf of the rail industry, I’d like to apologise.”He said a cross-industry task force “has been pulled together to tackle the problems head-on” although he said there was “no quick fix”.”It will need more reliable assets, a much more reliable train plan and more robust operator resource plans.”

A boy at a young offenders institution was left to lie on a mattress on the floor of a “filthy” cell for more than 22 hours a day, a report has revealed.The chief inspector of prisons in England and Wales, Peter Clarke, said a practice of separating children from their peers at YOIs amounted to “harmful solitary confinement”.He said the policy had “fundamental flaws” and was a risk to mental health.The government said it would be making “immediate changes”.Inspectors looked at five YOIs, holding about 600 men and boys aged 15 to 18 – Cookham Wood in Kent; Feltham A in west London; Parc in south Wales; Werrington in Staffordshire, and Wetherby and Keppel in West Yorkshire.Mr Clarke said 57 offenders had been separated and “in the worst cases children left their cells for just 15 minutes a day”.Young Offender Institution violence leaves officers injuredHis report, after inspections in May and June 2019, found “multiple and widespread failings”, although some areas of better practice were identified, particularly at Parc.It said there were occasions when it was in a child’s best interests to be separated for the risk they posed to others, or for their own protection. But staff should still aim to ensure they have daily activities and work to reintroduce a normal regime.Mr Clarke found eight children had spent a combined total of 373 days in separation while waiting to be taken to a secure hospital for treatment for mental health conditions.’New approach’He said nearly all those separated spent long periods in cells “without any meaningful human interaction”. This included the case of the boy left on the mattress, which took place at Feltham A, where he had been “in crisis” and on a “constant watch”. Some were “unable to access the very basics of everyday life, including a daily shower and telephone call”, Mr Clarke added.He recommended an “entirely new approach”.Justice minister Wendy Morton said: “It is difficult to read this report and not conclude that we are failing some of the children in our care. That is completely unacceptable and I am determined it will not continue.”She said separation can be “necessary” but there was “no excuse for some of the practices highlighted in this report and I have asked my officials to urgently set out the steps we need to take to stop them happening”.

Burton Albion have signed Scotland international Jamie Murphy on loan from Rangers for the rest of the season.The winger, 30, has struggled for appearances this season, having been injured for most of last term.At the League One side, he is reunited with his former Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough.

“The training ground is second to none and it was good to get out there and get a training session in with all the boys,” Murphy told Burton’s website.”I want to be back enjoying football again. It has been a nightmare time with my knee but I’m now just looking forward to playing again and hopefully helping the boys win on Saturday.”Clough added: “We can’t quite believe we have got him, but we are absolutely delighted. To get a player from Rangers of Jamie’s quality is brilliant. What he did for us at Sheffield United and how he played there means we are very excited to have him on board.”Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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