Why NSW Police never interviewed Christian Porter


NSW Police have revealed why they never interviewed former Attorney-General Christian Porter over a 1988 rape allegation and confirmed the alleged victim tried to deliver a statement via Skype during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Outlining new information about how the case was handled, police have confirmed the woman who accused Mr Porter of rape asked to deliver her witness statement via Skype during the COVID-19 pandemic – a request the NSW Police resisted and her friends and family were never interviewed after her death.

The woman ultimately decided to withdraw her complaint after COVID delayed the meeting with detectives and died by suicide at home just 24 hours later.

Mr Porter strenuously denies the allegations that relate to a 1988 debating conference in Sydney. He has launched defamation action against the ABC over the reporting of an anonymous letter sent to the Prime Minister setting out allegations against a member of Cabinet.

He subsequently self-identified himself as the target of the allegations.

RELATED: NSW Police never got letter outlining allegations

It was the woman’s decision to withdraw the complaint that resulted in police not interviewing Mr Porter after her death, according to NSW Police.

“It is current standard practice that once a signed victim statement has been obtained from a victim and further corroborative enquiries are made, the formal allegation can and should be put to the person of interest as per procedural fairness principles for investigators,” NSW Police said.

“On June 23, 2020 the (alleged) victim clearly communicated to investigators that she no longer felt able to proceed with the report. The NSWPF did not have a signed statement from the (alleged) victim, hence no formal allegation to put to the person of interest. In keeping with the (alleged) victim’s wishes no further investigation took place and the person of interest was not interviewed.”

NSW Police established Strike Force Wyndarra in February 2020 after receiving information from Mr Porter’s accuser.

Detectives from Strike Force Wyndarra were due to travel to Adelaide to take the woman’s formal statement in March 2020 but their trip was postponed after the COVID-19 outbreak.

RELATED: Accuser’s family begs media not to identify daughter

On Wednesday June 24, 2020, the woman’s body was located at a home at Adelaide by South Australia Police. She had committed suicide just hours after telling police she did not want to proceed with a formal complaint.

In answers to questions on notice, NSW Police confirmed the complainant did ask to provide a formal statement over the telephone or via video.

“Yes. On April 1, 2020, the (alleged) victim requested that she commence her statement by way of Skype,” the response states.

“Investigators consulted with the (alleged) victim on April 2, 2020 by way of teleconference. Options were presented to the (alleged) victim in relation to obtaining her statement. A joint decision by all parties was made not to conduct the interview remotely. There were a number of reasons which led to this decision. The (alleged) victim was understanding and supportive of this decision.”

NSW Police also confirmed they made six telephone calls to the woman which were not answered.

RELATED: Porter, Reynolds moved in Cabinet reshuffle

The alleged victim also made two telephone calls to investigators which were not answered. On both occasions the woman’s missed calls were returned within seven minutes and five hours and 26 minutes respectively.

NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge said the responses from NSW Police demanded further explanation.

“These answers raise yet more questions about the response of the NSW Police,” he said.

“When you speak to experienced investigators who have dealt with historical allegations they will tell you it’s not perfect but sometimes it’s the only option to take a statement by phone or video link.

“What is very distressing here is that this was an option that was requested by the complainant and open to police but for whatever reason was taken off the table.”

The answers provided also detail the Australian Federal Police decision to brief the NSW Police on the letter outlining the allegations rather than send it to investigators in full.

The letter requested urgent action be taken by the Prime Minister to investigate the 1988 alleged rape.

RELATED: Details of Porter’s ABC defamation suit

It urged the Prime Minister to set up an independent parliamentary investigation into the matter, similar to that commissioned by the High Court into allegations against former Justice, Dyson Heydon.

“When news of [the complainant’s alleged] rape becomes widely known to the public (as it most likely will), legitimate questions will be asked as to who knew what, when they knew and what they did,” the letter states.

“This is occurring today in relation to Brittany Higgins. The loss of respect for our political institutions will be exacerbated.

“There will be considerable damage to community perceptions of justice … and the parliament when this story becomes public if it is simultaneously revealed that senior people (like yourselves) were aware of the accusation but had done nothing.

“Failing to take parliamentary action because the NSW Police cannot take criminal action would seem like wilful blindness.”

The South Australia Coroner is yet to determine whether to conduct a public inquest into the woman’s death.



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Qld Indigenous communities gambling, drinking and avoiding school


The coronavirus health threat has largely been contained to Australia’s major cities, but some of the most remote and vulnerable communities have suffered devastating knock-on effects of the pandemic, according to a new report tabled in Queensland’s parliament.

Indigenous communities in the Sunshine State’s far north have suffered significantly from pandemic-induced lockdowns, where tensions are rising, drinking and partying has escalated, and children are avoiding school while being seduced into gambling.

The Family Responsibilities Commission, which supports welfare reform and monitors social standards of behaviour in Aurukun, Coen, Doomadgee, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge, revealed a raft of issues plaguing Indigenous communities.

Aurukun, a particularly disadvantaged community edged against the coastal shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, reported an increase in welfare payments associated with coronavirus subsidies combined with restricted activity and lockdowns had “resulted in a notable increase in gambling”.

“Of greater concern was information received that children were also attending and engaging in gambling circles, in some cases with adult encouragement, and in others conducting their own gambling activities with significant sums of money in the ‘pot’,” Family Responsibilities commissioner Tammy Williams said.

“Further information was received that the gambling was impacting school attendance and that some children who did turn up to class were struggling with having had very little sleep.”

School attendance was “significantly affected” in term two last year when the state government advised the physical presence of teachers to be minimised as educators leaned on remote learning and the use of online independent study.

But families in Aurukun suffered “significant personal and social stress” because of the pandemic and elected to not send their children to school, according to the report.

In Doomadgee, 140km from the Northern Territory border, the jump in welfare payments – about $150 a fortnight – had similar devastating impacts.

“We have seen an influx of money into the community which has ultimately led to an increased number of parties, drinking and gambling in the community,” Ms Williams wrote in the commission’s report.

“These issues have been exacerbated by the fact that the community has been locked down and isolated since March, leading to heightened tensions.”

The commission has endeavoured to provide support by offering financial management assistance.

In the 2019/20 financial year, more than 200 people across the five communities were placed on a conditional income management plan that took control of 90 per cent of an individual’s fortnightly welfare payment.

Aboriginal activist and Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC) board member Noel Pearson said the commission was having a positive impact on the future of people in the state’s most disadvantaged regions.

“This targeted model of income management provides our families with access to support services that help them build capabilities and take responsibility for their lives and their children’s lives,” he said in the report.

“At the heart of this model is a genuine and robust belief in the capacity of people to improve their lives when provided with support and the steady guidance of their local Elders acting as local commissioners of the FRC.”



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Locals don’t want Chris Hemsworth, Zac Efron


Nothing attracts rich white people like the Big Little Lies theme song.

It’s playing in a boutique kids’ toy store just off the main drag of Byron Bay while the owner talks about the tsunami of celebrities and wealthy city folk that has crashed onto the once-sleepy, surfy shire.

“If they’re not the soul that’s meant to be here, they get spat out and they end up going back to wherever it is they came from,” Mel Sainsbury says about the newcomers who’ve decided to not just visit the beach town but pull a Hemsworth by buying up, moving in, putting on a hemp shirt and calling it home.

Byron Bay’s property prices surged more than 40 per cent during coronavirus lockdowns, with the median house price rocketing to about $1.83 million. Reports of Sydneysiders and Melbournians escaping the big city rat race in favour of a sea-change have grabbed headlines.

“It’s the energy,” Mel continues, carefully folding clothes on the counter. She has owned Essentially Byron for 16 years and been a local since she was five.

“If you’re not meant to be here, you’re not gonna be embraced and things aren’t going to fall into place for you.”

A middle-aged man and his family burst into the tiny, creaky timber shop. His wife wants a certain dress but in a different style or fabric or something, so she leaves her details should it ever materialise. He continues to talk loudly on his phone about a potential car purchase, shoving past miniature cotton-candy pink plastic fairy ornaments and mounds of tutus hanging from the wall.

“I’ve always liked the old F355 Ferraris,” he declares, as if to impress the nearby plush toys with his yen for the collectable mid-90s Italian sports cars that fetch upwards of $300,000.

The Big Little Lies song has finished and now another tune from the same musician is playing but no one has ever heard of it. The Big Little Lies song probably has a proper name but no one knows that either. It will forever be known as the Big Little Lies song and conjure up memories of crashing waves and moody skies and rich people living in clifftop real estate and Reese Witherspoon driving her car while talking fast and Nicole Kidman wearing lots of beige tops.

Coincidentally, the new Nicole Kidman series Nine Perfect Strangers – based on the global best-selling novel by Sydney author Liane Moriarty (the same author who wrote the Big Little Lies novel which spawned the HBO show of the same name … c’mon, keep up) – is filming in the area. Kidman’s co-star, box office heavyweight Melissa McCarthy, has been renting a nearby home worth a reported $35,000 a week.

She almost outshines the town’s most famous resident: Chris Hemsworth. Or is it Zac Efron?

Byron Bay is a Big Little Lies viewer’s dream – and a longtime local’s nightmare.

“Hemsworth and the celebrities – I’m over ’em. Any true local will say we’re off ’em. We don’t want ’em here. We don’t,” says Bert Reid, who moved to the shire in the late ’80s and opened up the Wreck Surf store on the main street about 25 years ago.

RELATED: The cashed, trashed ‘brats’ rocking Byron Bay

“With the Hemsworths, the town becomes a different place. It’s a mini Hollywood. It’s not Byron. Everywhere I look, there are pictures of Chris Hemsworth. It’s not the town I grew up in.”

He’s not crazy about all the other celebrities that are holidaying here either: Michelle Bridges, Sam Burgess, Kate Ritchie and Hollywood super couple Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen to name a few of the summer’s high-profile visitors. And he’s also not mad about the people they attract.

“People come to Byron from Melbourne and Sydney but they bring their city mentality and attitude,” he says before his lanky hipster mate Snake jumps in.

“It’s pricing out the core backbone of Byron. Not everyone here has thousands in the bank,” Snake says.

Is Snake a long-time local?

“I moved here in May,” he hunches his face down into his shoulder, “… from Melbourne.”

Reid says he has had to shove out his family to nearby Ballina in recent years to deal with skyrocketing rental prices. He’s not alone.

“We can’t stay, we’re being kicked out because our landlady wants to do Airbnb. There’s nowhere to go,” says Karin Ecker – the mum of viral online eco warrior Arlian Ecker, better known as Plastic-Free Boy – about the rent hikes. She moved here in 2000 after living in Sydney for about five years.

“Because of the Chris Hemsworth effect, the whole housing prices thing has happened,” she continues as we dismantle her tent at the weekly Saturday night markets on the lawn in the centre of town.

“The Chris Hemsworth Effect” is the thing many residents are blaming for the boom. And yet, the guy is nowhere to be found.

To get even close to the megastar’s mega-mansion, you have to drive south out of town and rough it for 15 minutes through a nature reserve on an unsealed dirt road that teeters along mountainous edges and dips through valleys while the tubular waves of Seven Mile Beach roll in along the left.

Even when you get to the property – dubbed Byron Bay Westfield because of the fact it looks like it houses both a Woolworths and David Jones … and a tri-level Zara – it can’t be seen and there’s another gated dusty road that winds into heavy forest.

It’s almost like Australia’s most bankable movie star wants privacy. Outrageous, huh?

It’s the peak of the summer holiday period and the famous family has vacated their adopted town and popped up on the less buzzy Lord Howe Island to escape attention. And while Elsa is papped returning with the kids on a private jet, Chris is still MIA. Instead, he’s in Sydney filming the next Marvel instalment, Thor: Love And Thunder, in Centennial Park with co-star Chris Pratt.

“Even when he’s there, it’s not like he’s always hanging in town,” a paparazzo who has shot in the area says about Byron Bay’s most controversial resident.

But that doesn’t stop people from talking about him. A lot.

A man’s voice echoes down the dark Bay Lane alleyway around midnight on a Saturday.

“She drops the kids off and gets out looking phenomenal – no makeup, hair tied up,” the voice booms out of a restaurant.

A backpacker vomits near the falafel joint in the distance. Even his spewing sounds British.

But the mouthy middle-aged local just talks louder. He’s entertaining two out-of-towners and it’s immediately clear he’s dishing on the shire’s famous fabled creature.

“Then he comes in once a week and reads to the kids and sh*t. Chris jumps out and shakes hands with people and talks to people,” his voices bounces around the brick alley.

Chris Hemsworth’s prominence in the town is so huge, people even use him as a geographical landmark of which to describe their own whereabouts.

“Yeah, yeah, we’re right near Chris Hemsworth’s house – Chris Hemsworth’s house,” one guy talks loudly into his phone while waiting for a coffee – reiterating the detailed fact just to make sure we all hear it over the slurps and froths of the espresso machine.

Whatever happened to just dropping a pin on Google Maps?

“No one owns the town,” Bert says as we sit on the hardwood floor of his surf shop on a busy Sunday afternoon. “But there are people that grew this town to keep it how it is and now it feels like we all need Range Rovers.”

The groovy Kombi van has been run off the road by a slick fleet of Range Rovers and the luxury car is the first thing you notice about the town. Everyone drives a Range. And Bentley SUVs that look like funeral hearses. And Porsche Cayennes. (“We shoulda driven up in the Porsche,” one Sydney dad whined days ago as his teenage kids browsed in a cool boutique off Jonson Street that sells trendy brand names available back in the big city they came from.)

“Back in 1990, you could go to the old Beach Hotel and it was just a fibro sh*t hole,” mumbles a guy sitting on a deck chair on the main street holding a cardboard sign with a scrawled message that reads: “Sh*tty advice by donation.” He has lived here on and off for decades and now resides in a tent in a nearby caravan park.

“And down in the toilets there was graffiti all over the walls and the walls were kicked in and you could buy weed.”

He blames Crocodile Dundee producer John “Strop” Cornell for ushering in a new phase when he bought the pub in 1990 for about $9 million. It sold again in 2007 for $44 million and 2017 for $70 million and just recently for $100 million. Strop’s presence came a few years after Paul Hogan and Olivia Newton John bought properties in the region.

“That was the beginning of the end for this town. They crushed the old Beach Hotel, they built the beautiful new Beach Hotel. And the transformation continues to this day.”

A donation is given and advice is requested: Should people keep moving here?

“Here’s sh*tty. But everywhere else is sh*ttier,” he offers, like a really cranky magic 8 ball.

But Crocodile Dundee doesn’t beat Thor in a fight. Thor came in at a different time and brought celebrification, tabloidification and –

“W*nkification,” a post office employee says while diligently sorting packages. She’s a no nonsense mum who raised her now-adult boys in the hinterland.

“I avoid the entire area if I can.”

“I saw a limousine in Bay Lane. It was weird,” says Rosie Cranshaw who owns the Taiga Rose crystal store that sits opposite a Lorna Jane and a Tommy Bahama.

“I was speaking to my friend the other day and she said, ‘I can’t help but be resentful toward these people who have moved here’.”

Rosie moved to the area about a decade ago from New Zealand via Canada and sold feather jewellery at the local markets before pivoting into the crystal business.

She has seen the crowds changing. What crystals are newcomers buying?

Selenite. It cleanses, restores clarity and gets rid of negative energy, she says. Same with amethyst – it promotes peace and releases fear, anger and anxiety.

I pick through piles of rocks and deliberate over what toxic qualities I want to dispel.

“Don’t over-think it,” she shrugs. “They can mean whatever you want them to mean.”

The summer holidays are coming to a close. The streets are looking less busy by the day.

A roadside clairvoyant has her fold-up card table balanced between the footpath and the gutter outside a fancy gelataria – across the road from a Baskin-Robbins and around the corner from a YoFlo frozen yoghurt shop that Chris Hemsworth was once papped at.

She’s fed up after a summer of dealing with city folk problems.

“People dealing with their cheating partners,” she exhales. “They’re whining that their partners in COVID were cheating on them or secretly chatting to people online. I’m just sitting here thinking, ‘F**k, give me a break. You and the whole world.’”

The only thing she’s more fed up with is Byron’s power struggle.

“All the newcomers and the old-comers – who were newcomers anyway and who are just upset about the new-newcomers – well, they’re not doing anything to help themselves. All this ‘who was here first stuff’, it’s all bullsh*t,” she says while splaying out tarot cards. “Look around! Do you see Indigenous people here? African people? Do you see multicultural people here? No, it’s a redneck town.”

A stylish woman walks into a nearby boutique with her family and instructs everyone to choose shark tooth necklaces.

The clairvoyant continues.

“You can’t just bang a bongo and smoke a joint and call yourself a local. Or think you’re alternative because you’re recycling and growing a garden,” she drawls.

What’s the one question most customers have been asking lately?

“Will I be able to buy a house here,” she rolls her eyes.

Like the Sh*tty Advice guy, this roadside clairvoyant has lived on and off in the town for decades.

“I didn’t get stuck here, that’s the trick,” she declares. “Back in the ’70s, no one wanted to live here. The town stank.”

The Big Little Lies song starts drifting down the street from another store or bar.

So why does everyone want to live here now?

“They’ve all come here because they want the dream that everyone else wanted. Everybody wants a piece of paradise. But look around,” she rearranges stones and cards. “This isn’t paradise.”

Twitter, Facebook: @hellojamesweir





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Tom Hardy seen on ‘100% work-related’ London gym amid Covid lockdown


Tom Hardy was pictured visiting a London gym on Friday amid the nationwide lockdown

The actor, 43, made a low-key visit in a black tracksuit and backpack to Elevate Martial Arts in Richmond, which is closed to the public.

It has been said the star’s visit was for ‘work purposes’, which included filming ‘social distanced instructionals’ for the gym’s online platform.

Outing: Tom Hardy was seen leaving a closed gym in London while carrying a martial arts backpack on Friday

Tom looked relaxed as he stepped out of the gym building and walked down the rear staircase.

He held his phone in one hand and paused to send a text before getting to his car and putting down his black Jiu-Jitsu bag. 

The front entrance of the gym was closed during the day, with a sign on the bottom of the window reading: ‘Closed, but still awesome.’

Several other logos could also be seen on the door including Richmond Fitness and Studio K.

Sporty look: The actor, 43, cut as casual figure in a black tracksuit as he left Elevate Martial Arts in Richmond and headed to his car

Sporty look: The actor, 43, cut as casual figure in a black tracksuit as he left Elevate Martial Arts in Richmond and headed to his car

Heading home: Tom looked relaxed as he stepped out of the gym building and walked down a rear staircase

Luggage: He was seen carrying a large black Jiu-Jitsu bag which had white writing on the sides

Heading home: Tom looked relaxed as he stepped out of the gym building and walked down a rear staircase

The actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, and a spokeswoman for Tom told MailOnline that he was visiting the site for ‘work purposes’.

He was said to be filming ‘social distanced instructionals within a COVID safe environment for Elevate’s forthcoming online support platform’.

Richmond Fitness Club is also a base for The REORG Jiu Jitsu Foundation, which is in association with The Royal Marines Charity.

Tom has often been seen working with the charity, of which he is a trustee, and features on their website as well as social media pages. 

Investor: A spokeswomen for Tom said that the actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, which is currently closed amid the third national Covid-19 lockdown

Investor: A spokeswomen for Tom said that the actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, which is currently closed amid the third national Covid-19 lockdown

Busy: While standing by the vehicle, Tom appeared to casually spray something in a red can on his neck

Packing up: He held onto his phone in one hand and paused to type before getting to his car and putting down his black Jiu-Jitsu bag which had white writing on the sides

Packing up: He held onto his phone in one hand and paused to type before getting to his car and putting down his black Jiu-Jitsu bag which had white writing on the sides

Tom’s spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Tom is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts and Strength, and was on site for work purposes relating to the business, which included preparations for filming socially distanced instructionals within a COVID safe environment for Elevate’s forthcoming online support platform. 

‘He was also dropping off items for the charity REORG (where he’s a Trustee) – as the gym also serves as the London-based hub for the organisation. 

‘All COVID guidelines were meticulously followed. The gym, as well as all in-person services, are closed.’

Lockdown closure: The front entrance of the gym was closed during the day, with a sign on the bottom of the window reading: 'Closed, but still awesome'

Lockdown closure: The front entrance of the gym was closed during the day, with a sign on the bottom of the window reading: ‘Closed, but still awesome’

Spraying: While standing by the vehicle, Tom appeared to casually spray something in a red can on his neck

Casual: Tom kept it casual as he paused next to his vehicle to spray something on his neck

Spraying: While standing by the vehicle, Tom appeared to casually spray something in a red can on his neck

A spokeswoman for Tom added to The Sun that the visit was ‘one hundred per cent work related’.

An onlooker told the publication: ‘You see him quite a lot around here, and it is well-known that he is a regular at the gym.’

Gyms across the UK were forced to close at the beginning of January amid the third nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. 

Government guidelines state: ‘Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed. Outdoor sports facilities must also close.’

Tom, who is married to Charlotte Riley, lives nearby Richmond’s Elevate Martial Arts in a £3.4million mansion. 

The Legend star has been married to actress Charlotte since 2014, and they share two children together.

Later this year, Tom is set to begin work on a big-screen adaptation of the Vietnam War novel The Things They Carried.

Work: The actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, and a spokeswoman for Tom told MailOnline that he was visiting the site for 'work purposes'

Work: The actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, and a spokeswoman for Tom told MailOnline that he was visiting the site for ‘work purposes’

According to Deadline, Tom will star alongside Saturday Night Live alum Pete Davidson, as well as Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One), Bill Skarsgard (IT), Moises Arias (The King of Staten Island) and Angus Cloud (Euphoria).

The book was written by Tim O’Brien, largely based on his own experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War in the 23rd Infantry Division.

It’s told through several separate stories about the men of the fictional Alpha Company, as they traverse from village to village as they struggle to come to grips with why they’re all there in the first place.

Production was reported as being eyed to start in early 2021 in Thailand, though there is no indication when it may be released yet. 

Filming: He was said to be filming 'social distanced instructionals within a COVID safe environment for Elevate's forthcoming online support platform'

Filming: He was said to be filming ‘social distanced instructionals within a COVID safe environment for Elevate’s forthcoming online support platform’

Links: Richmond Fitness Club is also a London base for The REORG Jiu Jitsu Foundation, which Tom is a trustee for

Links: Richmond Fitness Club is also a London base for The REORG Jiu Jitsu Foundation, which Tom is a trustee for

Rupert Sanders (Ghost in the Shell) directs from an adapted screenplay by Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan), with Tom also producing with his Hardy Son & Baker partner Dean Baker, alongside David Zander, who had optioned the book. 

‘Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is his seminal masterwork – a raw, unflinching, and emotionally truthful literary experience filtered through a kaleidoscope of memory that’s impossible not to be profoundly moved by,’ said HSB’s Hardy and Baker in a joint statement.

‘We are all deeply passionate about and honoured to have the good fortune of working alongside Tim in bringing his vital classic to screen – and together with our incredible cast, Rupert, Scott, and David – we look forward to creating what we feel will be an important film,’ the statement concluded.

Director Sanders added that the book ‘is a beautifully crafted work and one of the most viscerally evocative books I have ever read’.

Mr and Mrs: Tom, who is married to Charlotte Riley, lives nearby Richmond's Elevate Martial Arts in a £3.4million mansion (pictured in 2017)

Mr and Mrs: Tom, who is married to Charlotte Riley, lives nearby Richmond’s Elevate Martial Arts in a £3.4million mansion (pictured in 2017)



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Tom Hardy is pictured leaving a London gym during lockdown for ‘work reasons’


Tom Hardy was pictured visiting a London gym on Friday amid the nationwide lockdown

The actor, 43, made a low-key visit in a black tracksuit and backpack to Elevate Martial Arts in Richmond, which is closed to the public.

It has been said the star’s visit was for ‘work purposes’, which included filming ‘social distanced instructionals’ for the gym’s online platform.

Outing: Tom Hardy was seen leaving a closed gym in London while carrying a martial arts backpack on Friday

Tom looked relaxed as he stepped out of the gym building and walked down the rear staircase.

He held his phone in one hand and paused to send a text before getting to his car and putting down his black Jiu-Jitsu bag. 

The front entrance of the gym was closed during the day, with a sign on the bottom of the window reading: ‘Closed, but still awesome.’

Several other logos could also be seen on the door including Richmond Fitness and Studio K.

Sporty look: The actor, 43, cut as casual figure in a black tracksuit as he left Elevate Martial Arts in Richmond and headed to his car

Sporty look: The actor, 43, cut as casual figure in a black tracksuit as he left Elevate Martial Arts in Richmond and headed to his car

Heading home: Tom looked relaxed as he stepped out of the gym building and walked down a rear staircase

Luggage: He was seen carrying a large black Jiu-Jitsu bag which had white writing on the sides

Heading home: Tom looked relaxed as he stepped out of the gym building and walked down a rear staircase

The actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, and a spokeswoman for Tom told MailOnline that he was visiting the site for ‘work purposes’.

He was said to be filming ‘social distanced instructionals within a COVID safe environment for Elevate’s forthcoming online support platform’.

Richmond Fitness Club is also a base for The REORG Jiu Jitsu Foundation, which is in association with The Royal Marines Charity.

Tom has often been seen working with the charity, of which he is a trustee, and features on their website as well as social media pages. 

Investor: A spokeswomen for Tom said that the actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, which is currently closed amid the third national Covid-19 lockdown

Investor: A spokeswomen for Tom said that the actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, which is currently closed amid the third national Covid-19 lockdown

Busy: While standing by the vehicle, Tom appeared to casually spray something in a red can on his neck

Packing up: He held onto his phone in one hand and paused to type before getting to his car and putting down his black Jiu-Jitsu bag which had white writing on the sides

Packing up: He held onto his phone in one hand and paused to type before getting to his car and putting down his black Jiu-Jitsu bag which had white writing on the sides

Tom’s spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Tom is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts and Strength, and was on site for work purposes relating to the business, which included preparations for filming socially distanced instructionals within a COVID safe environment for Elevate’s forthcoming online support platform. 

‘He was also dropping off items for the charity REORG (where he’s a Trustee) – as the gym also serves as the London-based hub for the organisation. 

‘All COVID guidelines were meticulously followed. The gym, as well as all in-person services, are closed.’

Lockdown closure: The front entrance of the gym was closed during the day, with a sign on the bottom of the window reading: 'Closed, but still awesome'

Lockdown closure: The front entrance of the gym was closed during the day, with a sign on the bottom of the window reading: ‘Closed, but still awesome’

Spraying: While standing by the vehicle, Tom appeared to casually spray something in a red can on his neck

Casual: Tom kept it casual as he paused next to his vehicle to spray something on his neck

Spraying: While standing by the vehicle, Tom appeared to casually spray something in a red can on his neck

A spokeswoman for Tom added to The Sun that the visit was ‘one hundred per cent work related’.

An onlooker told the publication: ‘You see him quite a lot around here, and it is well-known that he is a regular at the gym.’

Gyms across the UK were forced to close at the beginning of January amid the third nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. 

Government guidelines state: ‘Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed. Outdoor sports facilities must also close.’

Tom, who is married to Charlotte Riley, lives nearby Richmond’s Elevate Martial Arts in a £3.4million mansion. 

The Legend star has been married to actress Charlotte since 2014, and they share two children together.

Later this year, Tom is set to begin work on a big-screen adaptation of the Vietnam War novel The Things They Carried.

Work: The actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, and a spokeswoman for Tom told MailOnline that he was visiting the site for 'work purposes'

Work: The actor is an investor in Elevate Martial Arts, and a spokeswoman for Tom told MailOnline that he was visiting the site for ‘work purposes’

According to Deadline, Tom will star alongside Saturday Night Live alum Pete Davidson, as well as Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One), Bill Skarsgard (IT), Moises Arias (The King of Staten Island) and Angus Cloud (Euphoria).

The book was written by Tim O’Brien, largely based on his own experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War in the 23rd Infantry Division.

It’s told through several separate stories about the men of the fictional Alpha Company, as they traverse from village to village as they struggle to come to grips with why they’re all there in the first place.

Production was reported as being eyed to start in early 2021 in Thailand, though there is no indication when it may be released yet. 

Filming: He was said to be filming 'social distanced instructionals within a COVID safe environment for Elevate's forthcoming online support platform'

Filming: He was said to be filming ‘social distanced instructionals within a COVID safe environment for Elevate’s forthcoming online support platform’

Links: Richmond Fitness Club is also a London base for The REORG Jiu Jitsu Foundation, which Tom is a trustee for

Links: Richmond Fitness Club is also a London base for The REORG Jiu Jitsu Foundation, which Tom is a trustee for

Rupert Sanders (Ghost in the Shell) directs from an adapted screenplay by Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan), with Tom also producing with his Hardy Son & Baker partner Dean Baker, alongside David Zander, who had optioned the book. 

‘Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is his seminal masterwork – a raw, unflinching, and emotionally truthful literary experience filtered through a kaleidoscope of memory that’s impossible not to be profoundly moved by,’ said HSB’s Hardy and Baker in a joint statement.

‘We are all deeply passionate about and honoured to have the good fortune of working alongside Tim in bringing his vital classic to screen – and together with our incredible cast, Rupert, Scott, and David – we look forward to creating what we feel will be an important film,’ the statement concluded.

Director Sanders added that the book ‘is a beautifully crafted work and one of the most viscerally evocative books I have ever read’.

Mr and Mrs: Tom, who is married to Charlotte Riley, lives nearby Richmond's Elevate Martial Arts in a £3.4million mansion (pictured in 2017)

Mr and Mrs: Tom, who is married to Charlotte Riley, lives nearby Richmond’s Elevate Martial Arts in a £3.4million mansion (pictured in 2017)



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Switzerland will hold a referendum on whether to strip government of lockdown powers


Switzerland will hold a referendum on whether to strip the government of its power to impose lockdown measures

  • Campaigners handed in petition with 86,000 signatures on Wednesday 
  • Swiss will be able to repeal the swingeing Covid-19 Act with referendum in June
  • Comes after bill passed in September which gives more lockdown powers
  • Recent closure of restaurants and bars has infuriated the famously liberal Swiss  

Switzerland will hold a referendum on whether to strip the government of its power to impose lockdown measures.

Campaigners handed in a petition with 86,000 signatures on Wednesday, well above the 50,000 required to trigger a nationwide vote under the country’s system of direct democracy.

The Covid-19 Act, passed in September last year, has infuriated the famously liberal Swiss as it grants central government unchecked powers to impose indefinite rules to stop the spread of the virus.

But it could now be repealed in June, when the referendum is scheduled, making Switzerland the first and only country to allow its citizens a direct vote on the swingeing lockdown restrictions faced across the world.

Switzerland recorded 2,474 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and another 65 deaths, continuing a downward trend since Christmas. The country has been recording an average of 2,581 new infections – that’s just 31 percent of the peak in early November.

There have been a total of 492,832 cases and 7,904 coronavirus-related deaths recorded since the pandemic began

There have been a total of 492,832 cases and 7,904 coronavirus-related deaths recorded since the pandemic began

‘In our opinion, the [government] is taking advantage of the pandemic to introduce more control and less democracy,’ Christoph Pfluger, board member of Friends of the Constitution which spearheaded the campaign, told the Financial Times.

‘The long-term problems that will arise from this kind of approach will be grave. We are a movement that says crisis management cannot be done without the will of the sovereign — the people. You cannot govern without the people.’

Prior to the Covid-19 Act passing in September, the Federal Council in Bern could only issue edicts under the Epidemics Act, which were time-limited and hampered by parliamentary opposition.

However, the Bern executive had continued to operate in a relatively laissez-faire manner – much to the irritation of Switzerland’s Alpine neighbours, furious that skiers were still being invited into the country. 

Powerful lobby groups in the Swiss financial sector have been able to impress upon the government the catastrophic economic impacts of any further restrictions.

Meanwhile the populace have been thoroughly in favour of looser measures, with 55 percent telling the state broadcaster in November that they were worried about their liberty being restricted.

SRF’s survey also found that a third of respondents believed an 11pm curfew for bars and restaurants was too harsh.

But on December 18, with a rising tide of infections and fear spreading across Europe, Switzerland shutdown its bars, restaurants and leisure facilities.

Yesterday, the rules were extended to include non-essential retail.

In the wake of the changes last month, Mr Pfluger told the FT his team had been ‘astonished’ at the level of support which they had gained for their campaign in recent weeks, allowing them to gather thousands of signatories. 

A policeman patrols Verbier, the affluent Swiss ski resort has been in the spotlight after a number of British tourists fled quarantine measures. Famously liberal Switzerland has also infuriated its Alpine neighbours by keeping its ski resorts open

A policeman patrols Verbier, the affluent Swiss ski resort has been in the spotlight after a number of British tourists fled quarantine measures. Famously liberal Switzerland has also infuriated its Alpine neighbours by keeping its ski resorts open

Critics of their campaign say that the pandemic will have retreated by the time the referendum is held in the summer and that the legal basis for the Covid-19 Act will have dissolved.

But the campaigners argue that defeating the act in a referendum ‘is part of a bigger puzzle’ to prevent the government from introducing such onerous rules in a future emergency.

Switzerland recorded 2,474 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and another 65 deaths, continuing a downward trend since Christmas. 

The country has been recording an average of 2,581 new infections – that’s just 31 percent of the peak in early November.

There have been a total of 492,832 cases and 7,904 coronavirus-related deaths recorded since the pandemic began.



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French president warns of steps to dissuade holiday ski trips to Switzerland


French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronFrench president warns of steps to dissuade holiday ski trips to Switzerland Trump addresses virtual G-20 summit, heads out before session on pandemic G-20 leaders stress importance of united response to coronavirus pandemic MORE announced on Tuesday that France will be applying restrictions to prevent people from going to Swiss ski resorts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Macron said French ski slopes would remain closed during the holiday season, according to The Associated Press. Switzerland is not part of the European Union and has allowed ski resorts to largely operate as they usually do.

“If there are countries … which maintain their ski resorts open, we will have to take control measures,” said Macron when speaking on dissuading people from going to these areas.

Macron made the comments during a press conference following a meeting with with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Details on the restrictions will be decided on in the next few days, Macron said.

“We need solidarity … at our borders. We cannot ask (ski) resorts to stop their activities and see that people are traveling,” said De Croo. “In fact, all of us, we don’t need a virologist to know that if that’s forbidden in France, doing it in another country may not be very clever.” 

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced last week that winter sports resorts will be allowed to remain open, though ski lifts and ski slopes will remain closed. These measures have been put in place in the hopes of discouraging people from traveling and mixing at ski resorts.

The announcement comes less than a week after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on countries in the Alpine region to close down their ski resorts to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also warned people against skiing during this holiday season though he did not order a restriction on the activity.

France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. have all recently gone under national lockdowns. France began to relax its lockdown on Saturday, reports the AP, but bars and restaurants will likely remain closed until Jan. 20.

According to Reuters, Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel stated that if the ski sector is shut down, Europe could lose up to 2 billion euros, arguing that such a financial loss should be picked by the European Union. 





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Coronavirus London: Police raid closed gym being used by its OWNER


Bungling police raid closed gym because the OWNER was still using his own facilities during lockdown – as he threatens them with court saying: ‘They messed with the wrong person’

  • EXCLUSIVE: James Cooper owns Body Transformation in Hampstead, London
  • He was stunned when seven officers turned up at his gym and tried to get inside
  • He watched on a security system as police and Camden Council banged his door
  • The officers went round the back and one tried to tamper with a key box on a wall
  • Cooper, who trains celebrities and city CEOs, vowed to launch legal proceedings

Bungling police have raided a closed gym because the owner was still using the facilities during lockdown – as he threatens them with court action.

James Cooper, who owns Body Transformation in Hampstead, north London, was stunned when seven officers turned up at his gym and tried to gain access.

He logged into his security system and watched as police and staff from Camden Council spent an hour banging on his doors.

When they failed to gain access the officers went round the back and one tried to tamper with a key box secured to the gym wall in what Mr Cooper believes to be an attempt to get inside his property without a warrant.

Mr Cooper, who trains a string of high profile clients from celebrities to city CEOs and barristers, vowed to launch proceedings against the police.

James Cooper, who owns the Body Transformation in Hampstead, north London, was stunned when seven officers turned up at his gym and tried to gain access

He told the MailOnline: ‘The police made a very big mistake trying to break into my property.

‘I will be taking them to court over this, they messed with the wrong person, I’ve simply had enough of this.

‘This is for all of us business owners fighting back now, we can’t take this nonsense any more.

‘You can’t break into someone’s premises, no one was in danger inside, the place was empty, what right do they have to try and break in?

‘I was at home watching them banging on my doors and trying to get in by getting access to my key box.

He logged into his security system and watched as police and staff from Camden Council spent an hour banging on his doors

He logged into his security system and watched as police and staff from Camden Council spent an hour banging on his doors

Mr Cooper, who trains a string of high profile clients from celebrities (pictured with Alex Reid) to city CEOs and barristers, vowed to launch proceedings against the police

Mr Cooper, who trains a string of high profile clients from celebrities (pictured with Alex Reid) to city CEOs and barristers, vowed to launch proceedings against the police

‘I can hear them saying they don’t have a warrant because my system records sound as well. I’m just not going to put up with this any more.

‘What has the world come to that seven officers spend an hour of their time standing around my gym?’

He added: ‘Surely they have better things to do with their time in a big city like London.

‘I’ve bought everything in that gym from my blood sweat and tears, it’s been my dream to have my own gym and I’ve built that business from the ground up.

When they failed to gain access the officers went round the back and one tried to tamper with a key box secured to the gym wall in what Mr Cooper believes to be an attempt to get inside his property without a warrant

When they failed to gain access the officers went round the back and one tried to tamper with a key box secured to the gym wall in what Mr Cooper believes to be an attempt to get inside his property without a warrant

‘I’ve put all my investment into my business and I’m not going to sit back and let them try to destroy it.’

Mr Cooper, who studied nutrition at King’s College London, is one of several gym owners fighting against ‘draconian rules’ that have left their businesses in tatters.

Many gyms up and down the country refused to shut their doors during restrictions, claiming they provide a vital service that improves both physical and mental health.

Gyms were ordered to shut their doors under recent lockdown rules but the government confirmed they will lift the ban from December 2 under a tier system.

A spokesman for the Met said: ‘Police have attended a gym in Finchley Road NW4, on a number of occasions recently to support council officers, who are engaging with the business owner in relation to the enforcement of Covid regulations.’



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TALK OF THE TOWN: Fitness guru Joe Wicks sheds £4.4million on his dream home


TALK OF THE TOWN: Fitness guru Joe Wicks sheds £4.4million on his five-bedroom dream home

He inspired the nation to fight the flab during the first lockdown, and now Joe Wicks had shed a few pounds of his own – £4.4 million of them, to be precise.

The fitness guru moved his family into a luxury five-bedroom property in August and has teased his millions of Instagram fans with a glimpse of the interior.

Now I can disclose that the imposing pad is in an exclusive celebrity enclave in Surrey.

The move marks a remarkable change of fortune for Joe, known as The Body Coach, who grew up on a tough council estate in Croydon, South London.

His new three-storey home, which he shares with ex-glamour model wife Rosie and their two children – Indie, two, and Marley, 11 months – has a gym on the top floor and a large garden.

Pictured: Joe Wicks with his wife Rosie and their two children Indie, two, and Marley, 11 months

The 35-year-old, whose YouTube lockdown training sessions earned him an MBE and who raised £2 million for Children In Need with a 24-hour workout, recently treated his 3.9 million Instagram followers to a peek at the perfectly manicured grounds of his new home with the comment: ‘I’ve dreamed about having a home like this for my babies to grow up in.’ 

In August he told fans that he was moving from his then house in Richmond, South-West London, writing: ‘We have outgrown it, we are moving on and I’m excited about starting a new chapter.’

About 58 million people watched the PE sessions hosted by Joe and Rosie, 30, during lockdown, which they filmed in the living room of their Richmond home. 

Now Talk of the Town can disclose that the imposing pad is in an exclusive celebrity enclave in Surrey. Pictured: Mr Wicks' new abode

Now Talk of the Town can disclose that the imposing pad is in an exclusive celebrity enclave in Surrey. Pictured: Mr Wicks’ new abode

The couple donated the £580,000 generated from the keep-fit lessons to the NHS.

One of his new neighbours last night welcomed the arrival of the Wicks family.

‘It’s good to see Joe has moved in and I hope he and his family are really happy here,’ said the local.

A spokesman for Wicks did not respond to requests for a comment.

Pictured: Kate Winslet with Saoirse Ronan in potential Oscar winner Ammonite

Pictured: Kate Winslet with Saoirse Ronan in potential Oscar winner Ammonite

Kate Winslet’s latest movie is being talked up as a potential Oscar winner, but it suffered a disastrous opening weekend in the US. 

Ammonite, which also stars Saoirse Ronan, made just £83,250 at the box office. Critics say that’s a big disappointment, even taking into account the effect lockdown had on cinema audiences.

Looks like it was just another turkey served up for Thanksgiving weekend…



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