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News Report Page 11 of 25
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Bill Esterson MP writes to French President and UEFA President following Champions League "chaos"

THE Sefton Central MP, Bill Esterson has written to both the French President Emmanuel Macron and UEFA chief Aleksander Čeferin, and has called for an independent investigation, following the "chaos" Liverpool fans described at the Champion League final in Paris.

The Sefton Central MP Mr Esterson has also signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling for an apology from French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea Castera after their:- "appalling and unsubstantiated comments about Liverpool fans made since the match."

Mr Esterson said several constituents contacted him following the match at the Stade de France, on 28 May 2022. Some described being in fear for their lives in the chaos outside the stadium where fans came up against closed gates and turnstiles causing congestion and crushing. Fans said they were refused entry to the stadium, tear gassed, intimidated by locals and robbed. They were then shocked to learn that they had been blamed for the delayed kick off by officials who said thousands of fans had turned up without tickets or with fake tickets.

Mr Esterson wrote in his letters:- "Several of my constituents have written to me after they or family members attended the Champions League Final played on 28 May 2022, at the Stade De France, Paris. The experiences they have described to me are extremely concerning. The comments they have made to me include the following:-

'My son and grandson were pepper sprayed and tear gassed and had flash grenades used against them for no reason whatsoever. This could have easily been another Hillsborough if it was not for the good behaviour of our fans.'

'There was not a single steward or Policeman in this area, which amazed me. No help, no organisation, why?'

'After 45 minutes we hadn't moved any closer to the turnstiles, which were still closed. I spoke to a few fans around me that said they'd been waiting over 2 hours. The fans were pleading through the gates to the Police and stewards and the reaction was pepper spray/tear gas.'

'My son has epilepsy and I was also scared he may have a fit. At this point I told my son it was unlikely we were getting in as kick off was approaching. He sobbed and was comforted by me and also a female fan next to me.'

'The locals appeared to be working in small groups and at 1 point gathered in what I can only describe as a gang of, say, 30 to 40, they worked the way along asking vulnerable people if they had tickets, women, older people. At this point I was very scared. Again, where were the Police?'

'I considered giving up and going back to our Hotel but didn't know what risks I'd walk into if I left, I felt safer with the crowd. Just before the delayed kick off time, I heard 'any kids' in a French accent and turned around to see a lone steward and an official pulling a kid and his dad from the queue. I shouted for their attention and pointed at my son. I ran to gate Y with them and were ushered into the turnstile. I pleaded with the Police and the stewards to help us, they were just standing around watching.'

'The match was a blur, I was in shock and all I could think about was the danger we faced after the match. We stood at the top of the stairs just before the final whistle and ran as soon as it was blown. The run back to the station was like running the gauntlet, locals everywhere, the Police, again, did nothing to control them and just indiscriminately tear gassed fans leaving. We were again tear gassed just as we left the tunnel/underpass.'

'It is the most scared I've ever been, I genuinely feared for the safety of my son, it was easily the worst experience of my life. I eventually got through the check point where the person barely looked at my ticket and then immediately closed the fence behind me delaying anyone else getting through, unnecessarily. I got to the concourse at 20.05, a full 2.5 hours since I had left the train station (a 10 minute walk).'

'I went past Gates Y and Z and there were very long queues with people waiting patiently. I couldn't believe that there were queues at the gates when it'd been so slow to filter people onto the concourse. But when I looked at the turnstiles it appeared they were closed as no one was going through.'

'It was clear even an hour before kick off that people were not going to get in on time due to the organisational failure in delaying fans to getting into the stadium. My ticket didn't work on the scanner the first two times. It was therefore sickening to hear when we got into the ground it announced that the kick off was delayed due to Liverpool fans arriving late. An untruth similar to what we experienced from authorities after Hillsborough.'

'I have been following Liverpool for nearly 40 years and have been to 5 European finals. This was by far the worst organised match I have every attended. The situation before and after the match was an extremely uncomfortable and scary experience. This should have been a celebration of two of the biggest teams in Europe. But this was ruined by a lack of organisation and intimidation by UEFA and the Police and being treated like animals not people.'

'Gérald Darmanin and Amélie Oudéa-Castéra have focused on 'large numbers of ticketless fans, or fans with fake tickets' as the excuse for the appalling treatment we have suffered. There is no evidence that the number of ticketless or fake tickets were above the normal amount for a major event. While there were a large number of Liverpool fans without tickets who travelled to France, the overwhelming majority of these stayed in the fan park or in Paris bars to watch the match.'

'This could have easily led to a disaster with large scale deaths. It is only down to the exceptional behaviour of Liverpool fans that this did not happen. We did not push, we looked out for each other and recognised the dangers.' "

Mr Esterson wrote to Mr Macron:- "I trust that you agree with me that the examples provided by my constituents in this letter are a good representation of what happened to those who attended the Champions League Final. I should therefore be grateful if you would confirm whether you agree that the Police and stewards at the Champions League Final failed to ensure the safety of Liverpool and Real Madrid fans and failed to ensure that people visiting your wonderful Capital City received the welcome to a prestigious sporting event that they have the right to expect."

To the UEFA President, Mr Čeferin, he added:- "Please also let me know if UEFA accepts responsibility and whether your organisation will apply the lessons from the brutal mistreatment of fans at the Champions League Final."

The Early Day Motion tabled by West Derby MP Ian Byrne and signed by 70 MPs including Mr Esterson, calls for an independent investigation into the matchday failures in co-ordination with Merseyside Police. The EDM described:- "catastrophic failures in stadium management by UEFA and French Authorities which threatened the lives and wellbeing of supporters, " "grossly inadequate funnelling on approaching the Stadium," and "indiscriminate pepper spraying and tear gassing of supporters including children by French Police."

Mr Esterson also added:- "The facts are that Liverpool fans arrived at Stade de France up to 3 hours, 30 minuets, before kick off and Merseyside Police Officers own accounts state the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner, arriving early and queuing as directed. An independent investigation must be held."

Independent review published to help achieve smoke free target by 2030

A new review has been published setting out a raft of recommendations to support the Government to meet its smoke free ambition by 2030 and tackle health disparities to level up the health of the nation. Earlier this year Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid commissioned an independent review into ways the Government can help more people quit smoking and live healthier lives, led by Dr Javed Khan OBE, former CEO of children's charity Barnardo's. Almost 6 million people in England smoke, and tobacco remains the single biggest cause of preventable illness and death.

Tackling tobacco use and supporting smokers to quit would help prevent 15 types of cancers; including:- lung cancer, throat cancer and acute myeloid leukaemia; a key objective of the NHS Long Term Plan. Recent data shows 1 in 4 deaths from all cancers were estimated to be from smoking.

The independent review found smoking causes a disproportionate burden on the most disadvantaged families and communities, at its most extreme, smoking prevalence is 4.5 times higher in Burnley than in Exeter.

Smokers in the most deprived areas of the country spend a higher proportion of their income on tobacco. The average smoker in the North East spends over 10% of their income on tobacco, compared to just over 6% in the South East.

In an attempt to protect the population from the harms of smoking, the 4 key interventions highlighted by Dr Khan in the review are:-

Increased investment of an additional £125 million per year in smoke free 2030 policies, with an extra £70 million per year ring fenced for stop smoking services

Raising the age of sale from 18 by 1 year every year, until eventually no 1 can buy a tobacco product in this country

Promotion of vapes as an effective "swap to stop " tool to help people quit smoking

Improving prevention in the NHS so smokers are offered advice and support to quit at every interaction they have with health services

Other interventions recommended in the report include a tobacco licence for retailers to limit the availability of tobacco across the country; a rethink of the way cigarette sticks and packets look to reduce their appeal; and a mass media campaign to encourage smokers to quit.

Leader of the independent review into smoking, Dr Javed Khan OBE, said:- "In this review I have looked at our current smoke free initiatives, along with the very best practice from around the world. I would like to thank the many valued voices that have made key contributions towards shaping this ambitious and bold report. Without immediate and sustained action, England will miss the smoke free target by many years and most likely decades. A smoke free society should be a social norm, but to achieve this, we must do more to stop people taking up smoking, help those who already smoke and support those who are disproportionately impacted by smoking. My holistic set of recommendations for Government will deliver this, whilst saving lives, saving money and addressing the health disparities associated with smoking. My proposals are not just a plan for this Government, but successive Governments too. To truly achieve a smoke free society in our great country, we need to commit to making smoking obsolete, once and for all. It was a privilege to work on this review and get the opportunity to improve the health of people across the country, and I look forward to seeing the Government's response."

The report highlights that although the Government has made substantial long term progress in reducing smoking rates to their lowest ever level, due to measures such as the ban on smoking indoors, tobacco is still 1 of the largest drivers of health disparities. During the Covid Pandemic, the proportion of young adults aged 18 to 24 that smoke rose from 1 in 4 to 1 in 3. Nearly 1 in 10 pregnant women smoke at the time of giving birth, which increases the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and sudden infant death syndrome.

Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Deborah Arnott said:- "Javed Khan's report sets out an ambitious vision, combining a call on Government to increase investment in tobacco control with tougher regulations, both of which are essential to achieve a smoke free 2030. This is what the public wants too; research by YouGov commissioned by ASH to provide evidence for the review shows a substantial majority support stronger Government interventions to tackle smoking. Twelve billion pounds pours out of smokers' pockets each year exacerbating the cost of living crisis in our poorest communities. Only by making smoking obsolete can the Government deliver on its levelling up mission for health and wellbeing."

The Health and Social Care Secretary has committed to make England a world leader in cancer care to radically improve outcomes for cancer patients, with a focus on prevention through promoting good public health.

Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK Michelle Mitchell said:- "Smoking is the biggest cause of cancer, with 1 in 4 deaths from all cancers estimated to be from smoking in the UK. The scale of the issue is undeniable, yet England remains off track to become smokefree by 2030, and for the most deprived this won't be achieved until the mid-2040s. This review provides the Government with the steps needed to close the health inequality gap and make smoking obsolete; it must now implement the recommendations. With bold action, we can save countless lives."

President of the Association of Directors of Public Health Jim McManus said:- "Implementing these recommendations provides us with a generational opportunity to not only reach, but to go beyond the target for a smoke free 2030 and make a huge difference to the nation's health. We are therefore urging the Government to act on the recommendations and are ready to work closely with them to play a pivotal role in making smoking obsolete."

By addressing lifestyle risk factors such as smoking and poor nutrition, we can ease pressure on the NHS so capacity is boosted to tackle the Covid backlogs and reduce waiting times. The findings of the independent review led by Dr Javed Khan OBE will be considered and a response published as part of the Government's Health Disparities White Paper.

Close to ½. of UK drivers to now switch to EVs

50% of Britain's car owners will choose to buy an electric vehicle (EV) as their next car due to spiralling fuel costs, according to brand new research. In the new study that has just been published by used car buying service, asked 2,000 motorists whether recent fluctuations in fuel costs and shortages had affected their buying habits. The results showed that a huge amount; 42% now planned to purchase an electric vehicle as their next car, despite the higher purchase costs and less availability of second hand EVs. Interestingly, men were more likely to buy an EV than women, with 46% of males stating that their next vehicle would definitely be electric, and 38% of females. Age of driver also affected the results, with a sharp increase in plans for an EV in the younger demographic. UK drivers in the 18-34 year old age group felt most strongly about buying an EV, with a staggering 66% saying they would definitely make their next vehicle electric, while in the 35 to 54 year age group, 49% stated that an EV was their next car purchase. In the other 55 age group, only 20% said they would be purchasing an EV.

More findings from the report included:-

London drivers were the most likely to buy an EV next, with 60% saying that would be their next vehicle purchase.

This was followed by Brighton, with 48%, Edinburgh with 44%, and Birmingham and Liverpool with 43%.

Bristol and Plymouth were the Cities least likely to buy an EV next, with just 15% saying they would buy electric next.

Founder of, Nick Zapolski, said the results had not surprised him. "We have been doing a lot of research on how UK drivers have been affected by recent events, and the younger age group appears to have been the 1 that has found it hardest to manage the spiralling prices. While EVs are obviously a good choice for many, with the starting price still being close to 5 figures, many will struggle to afford a new EV and the second hand market is still very limited. It seems very unfair that the very people that need EVs the most, and who have the strongest desire for one, might be priced out of the market for 1."


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