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Teen who murdered ex in ‘frenzied’ attack jailed

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption The court heard Ellie Gould was a keen horse rider who talked of joining the mounted police

A teenager stabbed his ex-girlfriend repeatedly in the neck in a “frenzied attack” before trying to make it appear her wounds were self-inflicted.

Thomas Griffiths admitted murdering Ellie Gould, 17, at her home in Calne, Wiltshire, in May, after she ended their relationship.

Griffiths, now aged 18, went to the schoolgirl’s home, killed her and then left her hand on the knife handle.

He was jailed for a minimum of 12 and a half years at Bristol Crown Court.

Carole Gould said there was nothing in Griffiths’ behaviour before her daughter’s death that “would ring alarm bells”.

“We welcomed him into our home. We ate dinner with him,” she said.

The packed courtroom heard the night before Griffiths murdered her, Ellie had told friends they had broken up and he had “not taken it well”.

The pair were A-level students at Hardenhuish School in Chippenham, had known each other since Year 7, and been in a relationship for three months.

Image copyright Wiltshire Police
Image caption Thomas Griffiths was 17 when he killed Ellie in her family home

Griffiths walked out of school on the morning of 3 May and drove to Ellie’s home in Springfield Drive.

There he attempted to strangle her, before stabbing her 13 times in the neck with a knife taken from the kitchen.

“Griffiths became angry, perhaps by Ellie’s continued rejection of him, and he attacked her,” prosecutor Richard Smith QC said.

A statement was read out in court from Ellie’s father, Matt Gould, who found her lying on the kitchen floor with the knife still in her neck.

He said it was “the most frightening, horrific and saddest scene I have ever experienced” and it “fills my thoughts all day”.

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Media captionCarole Gould: ‘I’ll never forget that phone call’

Evidence suggested Griffiths had put Ellie’s hand on the weapon to make it look like she had done it to herself.

The court heard Griffiths spent an hour at the house before he drove home, changed his clothes and dumped a bag of items taken from Ellie’s house in a wood.

Later that day he sent a series of “fake” messages to friends and to Ellie’s mobile phone asking if she wanted to meet.

Griffiths also told friend marks on his neck were caused by self-harm but the court heard they most likely caused by his “young victim fighting for her life”.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ellie Gould told friends Griffiths had “not taken their break-up well”

Sentencing him, Judge Mr Justice Garnham told Griffiths his actions had been a “frenzied knife attack” and “the most appalling act” on a “vulnerable young woman in her own home where she should have been safe”.

He said Ellie had “tried desperately to fight back, scratching frantically at your neck” and “most chilling is that you left her on the kitchen floor with the knife still in her neck and with her left hand on the knife”.

The judge told Griffiths it was one of several steps he had taken to “cover your tracks”.

“There can be no more dreadful scene for any parent to contemplate than that which confronted Ellie’s father when he came home that day from work,” Mr Justice Garnham said.

‘Destroyed lives’

The court had previously heard Ellie was a keen horse rider who competed in local shows and cross-country events, and talked of joining the mounted police.

The judge told Griffiths: “The effects of your actions have not only snuffed out the life of this talented girl… but loaded pain on her friends and family.”

The court was told that following his guilty plea in August, Griffiths, of Derry Hill, Wiltshire, had written a letter outlining his “heartfelt remorse”.

In it, he said: “I feel confused and angry at myself that I was able to hurt someone so special to me.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ellie’s body was found at a house in Springfield Drive, Calne

Det Ch Insp Jim Taylor of Wiltshire Police said Griffiths ended Ellie’s life “in the cruellest way imaginable” and “destroyed the lives of those who were close to her”.

“While I know that this prison sentence will not bring Ellie back, and 12 and a half years no doubt seems insignificant given the severity of this crime and the colossal loss for this family, I hope that in some way it provides them with some form of closure,” he added.

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Why life on Scotland’s islands makes us happy

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Image caption Harris is part of the Western Isles

Scottish islands are consistently among the happiest places to live in the UK, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.

Its annual wellbeing study asks people to rank their happiness, anxiety, life satisfaction, and feeling that things in life are worthwhile.

Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles have all recorded high ratings since 2012. Three locals have told us about the lure of island life.

Leah Irvine: Shetland is always home

Image copyright @shetland_islands_with_leah
Image caption Leah on Clift Hill in Shetland

I grew up on the outskirts of Lerwick. I studied in Edinburgh, but I live and work in Shetland now. When you experience life in a city, even a beautiful one like Edinburgh, you realise how the pace of island life is slower.

If you have a a long day in the office or things aren’t going right, you can walk along a beach and the sense of calm is overwhelming. There’s no way you can be outside in Shetland and be stressed. It takes it away and sends it out to sea.

When I look at my childhood I had no idea how lucky I was because it was normal for me. Now I’m at a stage where I have friends who have families and they’re in the car for an hour to pick up their daughter from ballet. I went to netball and dance class, but it was a five-minute drive and the majority of my time was spent outside and exploring.

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There is a community feel but you definitely get out of island life what you put into it.

If you’re going to sit at home and say you’re bored, you are not going to have that sense of wellbeing or the quality of life you want. But if you’re willing to get involved then you’ll have a massive sense of wellbeing.

I’ve done lots of travel, but the thing about Shetland is it’s always home.

Earlier this year I took six weeks off and travelled around the Caribbean. It was amazing. But as gorgeous as it was, the only thing it had over Shetland was the weather.

Jack Norquoy: You grow at island pace

Image copyright Jack Norquoy
Image caption Jack Norquoy grew up in Orkney

I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in Orkney. It’s a very supportive community – it’s very vibrant and unique, with a real charitable spirit. That all helps with a sense of wellbeing.

It’s a place of outstanding natural beauty, and there are other factors such as smaller classroom sizes, so children are able to develop very strong relationships far more easily.

Orkney is changing and maybe for some it is changing too quickly. There is the expansion of the renewable sector and tourism continues to boom, and it would be wrong to say Orcadians are not reaping some good from those developments.

I think having a sense of ownership helps with wellbeing. Any Orcadian would say they feel at home anywhere in Orkney. The whole place is home to them.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image copyright Getty Images
Image copyright Getty Images

I think, had I grown up somewhere different, I would feel differently. Compared to a city, there’s not the same pressure and you can be younger for longer and fulfil your childhood for that bit longer without some of the pressures coming to you so quickly. You grow at island pace.

From a very young age you establish the importance of your surrounding environment. I think it comes down to that sense of community and a sense of working together and appreciating and protecting what you have far more.

I also have an eagerness to see more of the world, and take the vales of my upbringing with me and share them elsewhere. I get a longing for home when I haven’t been there for a while. Orkney always make me smile when I think about it.

Catriona Dunn: The bonds you build are strong

Image copyright Catriona Dunn
Image caption Catriona Dunn’s garden looks out towards Wester Ross

I lived in Aberdeen for five years and I liked it, but I always wanted to be back here on Lewis.

The family support network here is great. It was a brilliant place for our son to grow up and I can help out with my nieces.

I help to run a parent and toddler group at our church. It’s for everyone and we realised we are serving a need. We discovered we are a lifeline for some parents and can help them build a network of support for their own wellbeing.

Those bonds that you build are strong.

The backdrop to our life also helps. From my kitchen window I look across the sea and see its moods. On a clear day you can see the hills of Wester Ross. There’s only a small amount of light pollution and you can avoid it.

There’s nowhere like it on a starlit night. Sometimes I don’t realise it until I visit my son in Glasgow and it’s nice to realise how much we appreciate the natural environment.

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Wife told to shut eyes and expect gift was stabbed

Image copyright Google/Kent Police
Image caption Shaun May was jailed after being convicted of attempted murder

A husband who told his wife to close her eyes and wait for a present before stabbing her has been jailed.

Shaun May, 34, awoke his partner in the bedroom of her Kent home on 9 October 2018, police said.

After telling her to close her eyes he left the room to get a kitchen knife, plunging it into her neck and shoulder upon his return.

At Maidstone Crown Court, May was convicted of attempted murder and jailed for 13 years and six months.

May was arrested after his wife was rushed to hospital from the home in Southborough, Tunbridge Wells.

May, of Station Road, Aylesford, had denied a charge of attempted murder but was convicted following a trial on 4 September.

‘Violent manner’

PC Mark Beeching said: “May acted in a cold, callous and violent manner on that morning.

“The assault with a knife could have easily had fatal consequences and will no doubt have a long-lasting and profound effect on the victim.”

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Ellie Gould’s killer ‘should never be released’

Image copyright Wiltshire Police
Image caption Ellie Gould’s mum originally believed there was no chance Thomas Griffiths could have harmed her

The mother of murdered teenager Ellie Gould has called her killer a danger to women who should never be released from prison.

Ellie, 17, was found stabbed to death at the family’s Wiltshire home in May.

Carole Gould said Thomas Griffiths, who has been given a life sentence and told he would serve at least 12-and-a-half years, had become “obsessed” with her daughter.

He stabbed Ellie after she ended their relationship, the court heard during his sentencing.

The murdered teenager’s grandmother branded him a “monster” who should face the death penalty.

It was just three months after joining in Ellie’s 17th birthday celebrations that Griffiths stabbed her to death at her home in Calne.

The Gould family maintained they had done their best to make Griffiths, who has turned 18 since the killing, feel welcome.

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Media captionCarole Gould: ‘I’ll never forget that phone call’

“My husband wasn’t overly keen on him (Griffiths) because he didn’t say much,” said Mrs Gould. “I just assumed it was because he was a 17-year-old boy. It was nothing that would ring alarm bells.

“We welcomed him into our home. We ate dinner with him.”

Griffiths even asked to be allowed to do work experience at the family business just days before the murder.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ellie’s mum called her “the perfect daughter”

Mrs Gould said Ellie was not looking for a serious relationship but Griffiths was. Shortly before her death, his behaviour changed.

“It was only in the last week that she (Ellie) began to spot some signs,” Mrs Gould said. “She said that he’d been acting very strange.

“I said to her ‘what are you going to do?’ and she said ‘don’t worry Mum, I’ll sort it’.

“Little did we know he was going to turn up the next day and do what he did.”

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption “No mother should hold her dead daughter’s hand,” said Carole Gould

It was a phone call from Mrs Gould’s husband Matthew that alerted her to the horrific events of Friday 3 May.

He had come home from work to find Ellie fatally wounded on the kitchen floor.

“I could tell from his voice he was absolutely hysterical,” said Mrs Gould. “I was thinking ‘what on earth has happened?’

“As I was coming through Calne, a police car was trying to weave through the traffic and I thought to myself ‘that’s nothing to do with us, is it?’.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ellie’s body was found at the family home in Calne

It was, and nothing could prepare Ellie’s mother for the scene outside the family home in Springfield Drive.

“There were police cars abandoned everywhere, an ambulance at the end of the drive, and Matt just sobbing.”

As the stunned couple took in the fact Ellie was dead, officers asked them if their daughter had a boyfriend.

Yes, replied Mrs Gould – but she explained to them how devoted Griffiths was. “He wouldn’t harm her,” were her words.

But he had.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ellie, 17, was a pupil at Hardenhuish School, Chippenham

Within hours, police told Ellie’s parents her death was being treated as murder.

“At that point I just felt like I’d been thrown against a wall,” said Mrs Gould.

“We both said she didn’t have any enemies. Who on earth would want to murder her?”

It was not long before the couple realised Griffiths was the main suspect.

“There was just disbelief that he would do that, and why?”

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ellie’s killer Thomas Griffiths was present when she celebrated her 17th birthday

In August, Griffiths pleaded guilty to Ellie’s murder at Bristol Crown Court. Mrs Gould said she wanted him to spend the rest of his life in prison.

“He’s a danger to society, particularly to women,” she said.

“He became obsessed with Ellie within a matter of weeks. He could become obsessed with another woman and who knows what could happen?”

Ellie’s grandmother Pat Gould said Griffiths was “evil” and she believed Ellie’s murder was premeditated.

Image caption Ellie’s future has been “wiped out by this monster”, said her grandmother Pat Gould

“I believe it should be capital punishment – a life for a life,” she said. “Otherwise he’s being detained at our expense.

“She (Ellie) had a lovely future and a lovely family to support her and it’s been wiped out by this monster.”

Ellie’s family still feel her loss keenly.

“Her life was full and she had all the opportunities in front of her,” said her mother. “She was the perfect daughter.

“When the A-level results came out in the summer, it broke me because I just thought this time next year that would have been Ellie, we would have been talking about her future.

“No mother should hold her dead daughter’s hand. That was heartbreaking.”

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Warm sandwiches found at listeria death hospital

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ian Hitchcock was being treated in hospital for cancer when he ate the sandwich

Sandwiches were kept warm in “ineffective” fridges at a hospital where a patient contracted listeria after eating one and died.

Cancer patient Ian Hitchcock, 52, died on 8 June after eating a pre-packed sandwich while he was being treated at Royal Derby Hospital.

The problems with the fridges were identified on 4 and 5 June when an environmental health officer visited.

The hospital said it has since reviewed how its food is stored on wards.

In a letter to the hospital, food safety inspector Jayne Hassall warned “high risk foods” including sandwiches were being “stored outside temperature control due to ineffective refrigerators”.

Some of the sandwiches were found to be at temperatures above 8C, which is an offence under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.

“This increases the risk of harmful bacteria growing within the food, especially Listeria Monocytogenes which can grow rapidly in warm temperatures and is an increased risk to vulnerable consumers,” Ms Hassall wrote.

Her accompanying report highlighted a particular danger to cancer patients, due to their weakened immune system.

Why was the hospital inspected?

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Listeria infection is rare and usually causes a mild illness in healthy people

The inspection was carried out by Derby City Council at the request of the Food Standards Agency.

It was requested because of an ongoing investigation into a listeria outbreak which had at that point resulted in the deaths of three people at other hospital sites.

The death toll has since risen to six and the government has ordered a review of hospital food.

The Good Food Chain, which made the sandwich eaten by Mr Hitchcock, has been linked to the listeria outbreak.

It voluntarily ceased manufacturing on 5 June and went into liquidation at the end of the month.

What did the inspection report say?

Image caption Ian Hitchcock was being treated at the Royal Derby Hospital

The report said high risk foods such as sandwiches and prepared salads should be stored at 8C or below. However, the inspector found three fridges where the air temperature was higher than 8C. One of these was on a ward and two were in kitchens.

When the sandwiches were tested they were found to be as high as 13.1C (cheese sandwich), 11.4 C (tuna and mayonnaise) and 9.4 C (gammon ham).

The inspector wrote: “I am concerned as food poisoning bacteria, especially Listeria Monocytogenes, can rapidly grow at warm temperatures, such as the temperatures we found these sandwiches to be stored at.

“Vulnerable groups such as individuals with a weakened immune system such as cancer patients, patients undergoing immunosuppressive treatments, pregnant women and the elderly are more susceptible to developing infections as a result of Listeria bacteria.”

She told the hospital it must either replace or repair its fridges if they were not able to operate at 8C or below. She recommended the temperature be set to 5C, saying this was “good practice” for health care organisations.

How did the patient die?

Image copyright Good Food Chain
Image caption The Good Food Chain sold sandwiches under the name Good & Proper

Mr Hitchcock, from Crich in Derbyshire, was being treated at the Royal Derby Hospital after being diagnosed with liver cancer in May.

A pre-prepared sandwich made by the Good Food Chain was eaten at some point during his stay. His family believed the sandwich was contaminated.

He died on 8 June after being transferred to Nottingham City Hospital, and “systemic listeria infection” was found to be a contributing factor in his death.

His full cause of death has been recorded by the coroner as “1a liver failure” and “1b metastatic sigmoid adenocarcinoma and systemic listeria infection”.

The hospital has not given any details on where Mr Hitchcock’s sandwich was stored, but this is expected to be explored when a full inquest is held into Mr Hitchcock’s death.

What has the hospital said?

The hospital said it could not comment specifically on Mr Hitchcock’s care until the inquest into his death had concluded.

Executive chief nurse Cathy Winfield said: “As you would expect, regardless of the fact that the suspected source of the listeria was an external sandwich provider, our response was to review the facilities for patient food storage across our hospitals.

“This review, in conjunction with the council’s environmental health officers and independent reviewers commissioned by ourselves, found a number of improvements that should be made.

“This includes tighter restrictions on the storage of sandwiches and other high risk foods, revised ward kitchen temperature monitoring and new equipment, including fridges.

“We take our responsibility for food safety and hygiene very seriously and have made improvements in all of these areas.”

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Man who hit police dog with tin of beans jailed

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption William Sheen admitted arson, assaulting an emergency worker and causing unnecessary suffering to a service dog

A man who injured a police dog by throwing a tin of baked beans at its head has been jailed for six months.

William Sheen, 23, began throwing food at police officers when they tried to detain him at the George Tapps pub in Bournemouth on 21 August.

He also started a fire and barricaded himself in a kitchen storage space, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.

Sheen admitted arson, assaulting an emergency worker and causing unnecessary suffering to a service dog.

The court was told he had been causing a disturbance at the pub on Old Christchurch Road when staff called the police.

Officers from Dorset Police said they found him in a dry storage area of the kitchen shouting “Let me out” before waving a metal object at them and refusing to leave.

A fire was seen coming from the store and Sheen was heard to say “Go away – this place is going to go up”.

The fire service was called to extinguish the flames and a police dog, called Gus, was also sent to the scene.

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Police dog Gus was stunned when he was hit on the head with a tin of baked beans

In a statement, Dorset Police said: “Sheen began to throw items at the officers, including bags of flour and commercial-sized tins of baked beans.

“One of the tins struck PD Gus on the head, stunning him and causing him to back away.”

Police then used a Taser to subdue Sheen and he was arrested.

Ch Insp Heather Dixey confirmed Gus and the police officers involved did not sustain any lasting injuries and are back on active duty.

She added: “This case yet against demonstrates the danger that can be faced by officers and police dogs while dealing with hostile and volatile incidents.”

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Mum shielded kids from dad’s body with tea towels

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Media captionMother’s plea: ‘Find the killer who ruined our lives’

Two young children who witnessed their father being stabbed to death had tea towels put over their heads to shield them from his body.

Christopher Nicol, 27, was attacked inside his flat in Maple Road, Greenock, on 26 September.

Det Ch Insp Martin Fergus said Mr Nicol’s partner covered her children’s faces to get them out of the flat after the “frenzied and brutal attack”.

Mr Nicol’s mother said he ” worshipped his children” and was a brilliant dad.

The five-year-old boy and six-year-old girl have been receiving professional support.

Speaking at a police press conference, an emotional Karen Nicol said he “would have done anything for his children”.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Christopher Nicol was killed in front of his two young children

“I am devastated by the tragic death of my much-loved son Christopher,” she said. “Our lives have been changed forever. He was a brilliant dad to his two young children who he worshipped and would have done anything for.

“The man responsible has taken one life and ruined the lives of our family. Please, please if you have any information that will help the officers, please call them and Crimestoppers as soon as possible, please.”

Police believe the killer knew who he was targeting, and wrongly thought there was a large amount of cash in the flat. However, Det Ch Insp Fergus said the victim may not have known his killer.

The officer said that just before the attack at 21:05, Mr Nicol had been colouring-in with his five-year-old son in the living room while his six-year-old daughter was helping his partner in the kitchen.

‘Frenzied and brutal attack’

The killer entered the flat after barging past Mr Nicol’s girlfriend when she answered the door.

“This incident is absolutely horrendous,” Det Ch Insp Fergus said. “This has happened during a family scene, within a house in Greenock, a scene that is replicated throughout Britain on any given evening.

“An individual has forced his way in and effectively stabbed Christopher Nicol to death in the presence of his two young children. I don’t think I need to expand any further on how horrific this is.”

Image caption Det Ch Insp Martin Fergus said that what had taken place was “unimaginable”

He said that after the attacker fled the scene, Mr Nicol’s partner, in an effort to shield the children from what had taken place, put tea towels over their heads to get them out of the flat.

“I don’t think people need to imagine, after such a frenzied and brutal attack, what state the father would have been in and to have tea towels placed over five and six-year-olds heads to shield them from that speaks volumes as to how traumatic that was,” the officer said.

“It’s unimaginable what must have taken place. For a five and six-year-old to have witnessed this speaks for itself.”

Det Ch Insp Fergus said police had received a good response after speaking to people in Greenock, but said he firmly believed there was still crucial information that had not been given to officers.

“We are still needing as much information from the public as we can possibly gather in an effort to piece together the events of that evening,” he said.

“I do believe the answer lies within the community.”

Image caption Police believe the killer wrongly thought there was a large sum of cash in the property

He said even the smallest piece of information could be “critical”.

“On the back of Karen’s emotional plea I don’t think I really need to expand any more on the devastating nature of this horrific crime,” he added.

The killer has been described as white, aged 20-30, about 5ft 9in tall, with a slim build. He had a local accent, and an unkempt, reddish, brown beard and moustache. Officers say he also had a “drawn-in” face and decaying teeth, with some visibly missing.

He was wearing a black beanie hat with a logo, possibly Timberland, a black top and black jeans or bottoms.

Anyone with information has been urged to contact Police Scotland via their non-emergency line.

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Dad Wrote A Porno stars quizzed by real ‘Belinda’

A hundred and eighty million downloads, a world tour, an international TV series.

It’s not bad for three friends who started recording their podcast around a kitchen table with cheap microphones.

This week sees the launch of series five of the award-winning podcast My Dad Wrote A Porno, which will be going on another international tour next year.

If you’ve not even started then you definitely need a quick lesson: Jamie Morton’s dad is a retired builder and, in his retirement, he’s taken to writing pornography. He’s got a pen name – Rocky Flintstone.

Of course, knowing your dad is writing pornography is a bit traumatic but Jamie’s embracing it and, in every episode, he reads chapters of Belinda Blinked to friends Alice Levine and James Cooper.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption James Cooper, Alice Levine and Jamie Morton started the podcast in 2015

Another thing you need to know – Belinda Blumenthal is Worldwide Sales Director at Steeles Pots and Pans. Yes. This is pornography rooted in the international cookware market.

And if you know all this already, you’ll also know how series four ended. It took the dramatic side of Rocky’s writing to new levels.

The new series “picks up mere seconds after we left it in book four and the first chapter is called The Aftermath,” James explains.

“There is a lot really packed into the first chapter. And you realise that Belinda Blinked has become half spy novel, half erotica. This storyline is going to continue.”

It’s pretty clear that all three are surprised that they’ve got to a fifth series. Jamie reveals that his dad is already writing books eight, nine and 10.

If you want evidence of a phenomenon then the world tour seems to confirm it, with fans turning up around the world in My Dad Wrote A Porno cosplay.

“People don’t do things by halves when they come to the show,” Alice says. “We’ve had people dressed up as the trellis from book one.

“We’ve had people being locations, even – the pub or buildings from the show.”

Radio 1 Newsbeat got 20 year-old superfan Maddy to put some questions to Alice, James and Jamie.

But she’s not just any super fan. Like Belinda, Maddy also has a job in the pots and pans industry.

Maddy: We actually make pans in the UK and I’m in charge of selling them. I haven’t heard Belinda sell a single one. And as a seller of pans, I’m quite curious on how her business is doing so well, having so many employees without managing to sell any pans?

Jamie: I don’t think she’s signed any deals properly, has she? She gives them away a lot.

James: I think the company she works for has actually done a lot worse since employing her and things are really going downhill. It seemed quite obvious to us how she could turn things around. Stop giving them away. Stop giving away 20,000 at the O2 and then you might start making some money.

Image copyright Netherton Foundry
Image caption Maddy’s in the pots and pans industry

Maddy: Working for Netherton Foundry, I’ve travelled all over Britain and to Germany and France to sell pans – and I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s actually turned on by pans. How has she found so many people so turned on by cookware?

Alice: I feel like Maddy is taking this literally – I’m not sure it’s the touch of the pan and the stainless steel getting her going. I think, for Belinda, it’s the business she is turned on by – the entrepreneur. She’s turned on by suppliers, she’s turned on by distributors, it’s anything in the chain.

Jamie: She’s very attracted to the passion that people have for their job.

Alice: She used to work in crockery and probably felt the same way about people working in crockery. She worked in swimwear too.

Jamie: She’s done so much and diversified her career.

Alice: Like a great international sales director, you are wedded to the product that you sell and she can find excitement in that.

Image copyright Netherton Foundry
Image caption Maddy in action at the foundry

Maddy: My next question is purely practical. I’m questioning the safety of the workers where Belinda works. Our offices and workshops in Shropshire aren’t very safe places to go about these activities because of the machines needed to make pans. Do these workplace activities follow health and safety regulations?

James: I love all the shoutouts Maddy is getting for her company here. Steele’s Pots and Pans’ office where Belinda works is the main office. The factory is in Scotland, so the office is quite a safe place.

Alice: They have a leather room designed purely for sexual antics so, in a way, they’ve taken it out of the work environment and have located a space for it.

James: There’s a lot of security in the building. Key cards have been given a lot of air time – every employee has one. Nobody is getting in who’s not an employee.

Jamie: My dad is very security conscious and he’s very health and safety conscious too. He cares about these things. He’s thought about it.

Alice: He cares about it more than the sex really. I’d say health and safety has been given more of an airing than erotica.

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Ruling expected in women’s pension age case

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Media caption“t makes me angry. It makes me very emotional”

Campaigners will learn later whether the government’s handling of the rise in women’s state pension age discriminated against them.

The retirement age for women rose from 60 to 65, in line with men, and will go up to 66 by 2020, and to 67 by 2028.

Women born in the 1950s claim the rise is unfair because they were not given enough time to make adjustments to cope with years without a state pension.

They won the right to a judicial review, with judges ruling later.

Up until 2010, women received their state pensions at the age of 60 but that has been rising since then. While most campaigners support pension age equality, they say the government was discriminatory in the way it has introduced it.

In June, the judicial review in the High Court heard a claim from two members of the Backto60 group who said that not receiving their state pension at the age of 60 had affected them disproportionately.

They argue that many women took time out of work to care for children and were paid less than men, could not save as much in occupational pensions, so the change had hit them harder.

It is estimated that 3.8 million women were in this position, with some potentially losing out on more than £40,000.

The Backto60 group is seeking repayment of all the pensions people born in the 1950s would have received if they had been able to retire earlier. It argues that the speed of the change and what it calls the lack of warnings has disadvantaged millions of women.

However, the government has estimated that a reversal of the pension changes in the Acts of Parliament of 1995 and 2011 would cost £215bn over the period 2010-11 to 2025-26.

About £181bn of that would be money potentially owed to women and the rest to men.

It has said the move to make the state pension age the same for men and women was a “long-overdue” move towards gender equality, and had been clearly communicated to those affected.

The losing side of Thursday’s judgement is likely to appeal, meaning more court cases in a long-running dispute over the effect of the pension changes on 1950s women.

Campaigners have lobbied MPs, and call regular public protests to raise awareness of their situation.

The Backto60 group has taken this legal action to demand “the return of their earned dues”. The separate Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) group is calling for a “bridging” pension to cover the gap from the age of 60 until their state pension is paid.

‘I could have paid my bills’

Image caption Krissy Abbott, with her dog Jazz, says she is angry about the situation

Krissy Abbott was born in April 1954 so had expected to be receiving her state pension well before now. Instead, it will come in November.

Mrs Abbott, from Essex, said the loss of her husband, Alan, as well as difficulties with benefits applications meant she was depending on the charity of others last year.

“The only thing I had was the food bank and some very good neighbours of mine. They knew how much I thought of [my dog] Jazz. They brought round tins of dog food for him,” she said.

“I had a gas cooker in the kitchen and Jazz and I used to spend our time in the kitchen keeping warm. You just survive.”

She said life would have been different had she been in receipt of her state pension.

“You could have had the heating, you could have had hot food, a shower, a bath, a simple thing like having a kettle and making a hot drink. It would have made such a difference. I could have paid my bills,” she said.

“It makes me angry. It makes me very emotional.”

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