October 8, 2019

Major General de Silva to return

Major General Prasanna de Silva – the defence adviser at the Sri Lanka high commission in London – is to return to Sri Lanka soon, the Guardian newspaper reported.This comes as an organisation representing the Tamil diaspora was set to launch legal action against the British Foreign Office over its failure to confront Major General de Silva over allegations of being involved in alleged war crimes. The Foreign Office confirmed it had received a dossier on Silva in January and had advised the NGOs who compiled it – the Society for Threatened Peoples, Trial and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights – to pass “any credible evidence” on to the Met.“We also looked closely at the dossier ourselves,” said an FCO spokesman. “However, while we were assessing this evidence, we were notified that Silva was planning to move on soon.” The spokesman said that while the British government takes all such allegations very seriously, he was unable to comment on the legal action brought by the GTF.Siobhain McDonagh, the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden and vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for Tamils, described the FCO’s failure to act sooner on the dossier as “unfathomable”. The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) alleges that Silva was involved in systematic attacks on Tamil civilians between January and May 2009 when he was a senior commander in the Sri Lankan army. It has emerged in the last few days that Silva is soon to return to Sri Lanka, raising fears that he may avoid questioning. The FCO’s legal advisers have also written to the GTF’s solicitors, Birnberg, Peirce and Partners, informing them there will be a two-week delay in dealing with the case because of the Easter recess.A spokesman for the Sri Lankan government told the Guardian on Wednesday night that Silva was going home because his 18-month term as defence adviser was almost up, adding: “The claim of a lawsuit by the GTF has nothing to do with this routine transfer matter and it appears to be yet another invidious attempt to embarrass both Sri Lankan and British governments and a continuation of GTF’s history of attempting to gain misplaced publicity mileage for events it has nothing to do with.” The Sri Lankan high commission has previously described allegations against Silva as “highly spurious and uncorroborated” and accused British media of seeking “entirely falsely, to implicate members of the Sri Lankan government and senior military figures” in such acts.The GTF – which points out that the dossier in the hands of the Metropolitan police has also been in the possession of the FCO since late January – worries that Silva will have left the UK by the time action is taken.“All we are seeking is justice for the hundreds of thousands of innocent people who allegedly perished at the hands of the likes of Prasanna de Silva and others,” said a spokesman. “Our kind request to the secretary of state is to let the legal process decide whether Maj Gen Silva is guilty or not guilty.” The GTF, he added, has “complete faith in the British justice system”. It decided to press for a judicial review of the FCO’s actions after the British foreign secretary, William Hague, refused to declare Silva persona non grata and strip him of his diplomatic immunity so he could be questioned over the allegations. Scotland Yard has been handed a dossier on the allegations facing Silva but has refused to comment further on the matter. “It does seem extraordinary [for the FCO] to take no action and just rely upon the Sri Lankan government to withdraw him,” she said. “Given the evidence and that the government saw the dossier from the NGOs, why on earth did they take no action?”The British government’s behaviour, she added, would send an unfortunate message about the UK’s commitment to human rights. “If you get a reputation for taking people who there are serious allegations of war crimes against, do other countries do the same thing?” she said.“Do we want people who have those allegations against them here? Do we want people to think that we’re an easy or a soft option?”Fred Carver, the campaign director of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, said he could not believe that the British government had accepted Silva’s diplomatic accreditation in the first place.“Any intern equipped with Google and a working mouse could have determined that there were credible allegations against Silva,” he said.“Now they know what they should have previously suspected and investigated, they should not hesitate to revoke it before it is too late. If they do nothing then Silva’s unhindered return will be rightly interpreted as signifying that Britain is soft on war crimes suspects.” read more

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September 25, 2019

Meghan Markle to join Royal family at Sandringham for Christmas

first_imgIt is thought that William and Kate, who is pregnant with her third child, will not take their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, to the Christmas Day church service.Where will Meghan and Harry stay at Christmas?There is speculation that Harry and his bride-to-be might stay with the Cambridges at their nearby home, Anmer Hall.But if they are accommodated by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Sandringham, they will follow a German tradition observed by generations of the royal family. Prince Harry meeting members of the public as he attended the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham in 2016Credit:Chris Jackson /Getty Their appearance at St Mary Magdalene Church’s morning service on the royal estate is a traditional event where they meet well-wishers.Back at the house, lunch is served at 1pm and they indulge in a giant turkey, reared at Sandringham.They then settle down to watch TV, including – most importantly – the Queen’s Christmas Speech. Christmas Day walkabout a chance to meet publicThe event also usually attracts hundreds of well-wishers who watch the royal party walk from Sandringham House to the nearby St Mary Magdalene Church, and make the return journey after the Christmas Day service is over.Members of the royal family usually go on an impromptu walkabout, chatting to local residents, and this could be another opportunity for Ms Markle to meet more of the British public. Christmas at Sandringham is likely to be the first of many for the American actress, who will wed Harry sometime in May in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.During a television interview to mark their engagement, Harry and Meghan revealed that the former actress had met the Queen.But if she has not been introduced to the rest of the family, the Christmas gathering will be the opportunity to chat to the Princess Royal, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duke of York and his daughters, who are all expected to attend. The former Suits star was also a big hit with the Queen’s beloved corgis, with the prince joking: “I’ve spent the last 33 years being barked at; this one walks in, absolutely nothing…”Traditions of a Royal Christmas at SandringhamThe traditions and customs followed by the royal family at Christmas are likely to come as a surprise to Meghan Markle.While most people across the country open their presents on Christmas Day, the royal family still keep to the German practice of opening their gifts on Christmas Eve.The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other royals usually congregate in the White Drawing Room at Sandringham House the day before Christmas to put the finishing touches to a 20ft (6m) tree cut from the estate.Presents are placed on a white linen-covered trestle table, with cards marking exactly where the piles of gifts should be put.And what should Ms Markle buy the woman who is head of state and lives in palaces? Something useful as the Queen apparently likes practical presents, but not overly extravagant ones.The Duchess of Cambridge revealed that she was left stumped over what to buy the Queen for Christmas.”I thought ‘I’ll make her something’. Which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny’s recipe of chutney.” Prince Harry meets members of the public as he attends a Christmas Day church service at Sandringham on December 25, 2016 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty I Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the day their engagement was announcedCredit:Chris Jackson /Getty At 5pm, guests enjoy tea, scones, sandwiches and cakes from sideboards in the Saloon. Afterwards, they dress for dinner, with the table set with the finest china. Queen Elizabeth II attends a Christmas Day church service at Sandringham on December 25, 2015  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the day their engagement was announced Meghan Markle will join the Queen and other senior members of the Royal family for Christmas at Sandringham, Kensington Palace has confirmed.Ms Markle and fiance Prince Harry will be seen in public with other royals when they attend the traditional Christmas Day church service on the Queen’s private estate in Norfolk.The couple got engaged on November 27 and a few days later a proud Harry introduced his bride-to-be to the nation during a series of official events in Nottingham.Buckingham Palace has said the Queen and other members of the royal family will join the congregation for the morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church on December 25.A Kensington Palace spokesman said: “You can expect to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms Markle at Sandringham on Christmas Day.” A few months into the relationship, Harry said he had to have “some pretty frank conversations” with Meghan about how her life may change when she entered the royal family.He added: “But I know that at the end of the day she chooses me, and I choose her, and therefore whatever we have to tackle together or individually we’ll always be us together as a team, so I think she’s capable… she’s capable of anything.” The couple disclosed that Ms Markle had met the Queen twice, an individual she described as an “incredible woman”. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla lead members of the Royal family as they attend the Christmas Day church service last yearCredit:PHIL NOBLE /Reuters The Queen shelters from the rain during the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham in 2015 Credit:Chris Jackson /Getty Prince Charles and his wife Camilla lead members of the royal family  Christmas presents are opened on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day, a legacy of the German heritage of the monarchy.’All the stars were aligned’: How the couple metAfter announcing their engagement, the couple gave an insight into their 16-month romance in a BBC interview – and described how they met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. Ms Markle will be separated from Harry later in the evening as, sometime after 10pm, on a signal from the Queen, the corgis are led out and the ladies adjourn, leaving the Duke of Edinburgh to serve port or brandy to the men.On Christmas Day, the royals awake to find stockings filled with small gifts and fruit at the foot of their beds. Ms Markle told how she could not wait to say “yes” to the prince when Harry got down on one knee a few weeks ago as they cooked a roast chicken dinner at his home, Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.Indicating the depths of his feeling for his bride-to-be, Prince Harry said: “The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that everything, all the stars were aligned, everything was just perfect.”It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life.” Full interview: Harry and Meghan reveal engagement joy Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

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