A sonic boom that echoed over Washington DC on Sunday was caused by two fighter jets scrambling to intercept a private jet which had strayed into restricted airspace, officials said.
Houses on the ground shook as the F-16 broke the sound barrier as it chased a Cessna across the US capital. The noise was heard as far afield as northern Virginia and Maryland.
Twitter user Erica Petacchi said she had just got out of her car when she heard the bang.
“It’s like nothing I’ve experienced before,” she tweeted. “I thought it was a large gas explosion nearby.”
Why the Cessna, which can carry up to 12 passengers, had flown into a sensitive area remains unclear.
According to flight reports, the plane had taken off from Elizabethton, Tennessee flown to Long Island, New York and then turned south heading back towards Washington. The plane flew over the US Capitol building and the White House.
Experts believe the plane could have wandered off course accidentally. The pilot was unresponsive when contacted. One source said the plane was on autopilot.
Joe Biden spent the day golfing at Joint Base Andrews, just over 15 miles from the White House. He arrived back at the White House at 4.01 pm, about half an hour after the alert. It was unclear whether he heard the sonic boom.
The aircraft eventually crashed in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. There was no immediate word of any casualties, with the search and rescue team unable to reach the area because of low cloud.
However, the Pentagon denied the crash was caused by the high-speed pursuit.
The plane is understood to have been owned by Encore Motors of Melbourne. Company owner, John Rumpel, told the Washington Post his entire family including his daughter, grandchild and nanny were on board.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are now investigating the plane crash.
Novak Djokovic beat Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas 6-3,6-2,6-2 on the Roland Garros clay to move ahead of Rafael Nadal to take sole ownership of the last-eight record.
The Serbian is aiming to overtake Nadal by winning a record 23rd grand slam men’s singles title.
In the women’s draw, world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka beat American Sloane Stephens on Sunday night in straight sets but again just like her third-round victory Sabalenka did not attend the traditional post-match press conference.
Elswhere, Aldila Sutjiadi and Miyu Kato were disqualified from their doubles match after the latter struck a ball to the opposite end of the court between points and accidently hit a ball girl.
Today’s order of play
(All times local, +1 hour from BST)
11:00: Bernarda Pera (USA) v (7) Ons Jabeur (Tun), Nicolas Jarry (Chi) v (4) Casper Ruud (Nor), Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Svk) v (6) Cori Gauff (USA), (28) Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) v (22) Alexander Zverev (Ger)
11:00: Sara Sorribes Tormo (Spa) v (14) Beatriz Haddad Maia (Bra), (6) Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (Den) v (23) Francisco Cerundolo (Arg), (1) Iga Swiatek (Pol) v Lesia Tsurenko (Ukr), Tomas Martin Etcheverry (Arg) v (27) Yoshihito Nishioka (Jpn)
11:00: (14) Latisha Chan (Tpe) & Hao-Ching Chan (Tpe) v Alize Cornet (Fra) & Diane Parry (Fra), Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe) & Xin Yu Wang (Chn) v (5) Desirae Krawczyk (USA) & Demi Schuurs (Ned), Sander Gille (Bel) & Joran Vliegen (Bel) v (14) Maximo Gonzalez (Arg) & Andres Molteni (Arg), (12) Matwe Middelkoop (Ned) & Andreas Mies (Ger) v (3) Marcelo Arevalo (Esa) & Jean-Julien Rojer (Ned)
11:00: (8) Gabriela Dabrowski (Can) & Luisa Stefani (Bra) v (10) Leylah Annie Fernandez (Can) & Taylor Townsend (USA), (3) Storm Hunter (Aus) & Elise Mertens (Bel) v (15) Veronika Kudermetova (Rus) & Ludmilla Samsonova (Rus), Miyu Kato (Jpn) & Tim Puetz (Ger) v Luisa Stefani (Bra) & Rafael Matos (Bra), Asia Muhammad (USA) & Lloyd Glasspool (Gbr) v Gabriela Dabrowski (Can) & Nathaniel Lammons (USA)
How to watch the French Open 2023 on TV
In the UK, Eurosport has the broadcasting rights to live action from Paris. 273 live hours will be shown on Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2 complementing the digital offering on discovery+ and the Eurosport App – where every match will be available to watch live throughout the tournament.
Every qualifying, wheelchair, junior and legends match will be available to watch live.
Eurosport’s on-site presentation team includes multiple grand slam winners Mats Wilander, Chris Evert and John McEnroe, who join Alex Corretja, Laura Robson and Alizé Lim in Paris. World No 4 and 2022 finalist Casper Ruud will also offer his insights. Tim Henman and Barbara Schett will anchor coverage from the mixed-reality Cube studio in London before presenting live from Paris from the semi-final stage of the tournament.
To watch on discovery+, an entertainment and sport pass is £6.99/month or £59.99/year.
In the United States the tournament is broadcast on ESPN.
French Open draw
When is the French Open 2023 final?
The women’s final will take place on June 10. The men’s final is on June 11.
What is the French Open prize money?
The French Open total prize pool is €49.6 million (£43.2 million), up 12.3 per cent on 2022. The men’s and women’s singles champions will each take home €2.3 million (£2 million) and the finalists will earn €1.15 million (£1 million).
Which British players are involved?
None in the men’s or women’s singles. Cameron Norrie’s tournament ended with a crushing third-round defeat to Lorenzo Musetti. Jack Draper retired from his match against Tomas Etcheverry with a shoulder problem while Dan Evans went out in the first round, losing 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Britons are notably absent on the women’s side, after a dreadful qualifying tournament and due to the absence of Emma Raducanu through injury. It is the first time since 2009 that no British women have featured in the main draw at a major.
Why is Andy Murray not playing in Paris?
Andy Murray withdrew from this year’s French Open to prioritise the grass-court season in the build-up to Wimbledon.
Murray was beaten in the first round of the Italian Open and made another early exit on clay after losing to Stan Wawrinka at an ATP Challenger event in Bordeaux.
The 36-year-old is understood to still be considering which tournaments to target and they may include Surbiton from June 4-11 and then Queen’s from June 19-25.
Who are the defending champions?
Last year, Rafael Nadal became the first man to win 22nd major singles titles after sweeping aside eighth seed Ruud 6–3, 6–3, 6–0.
Swiatek solidified her status as the world’s best women’s player when she overwhelmed Gauff, who was playing in her first major singles final, 6–1, 6–3.
Belarus’s Aryna Sabalenka set up a politically charged quarter-final against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina at Roland Garros, but continued her boycott of open press conferences.
The world No 2 has had an impressive week in Paris, reaching her first quarter-final here after a hard-fought – if error-strewn – 7-6, 6-4 win over American Sloane Stephens. But her results have been clouded by external tensions, as she has repeatedly faced questions over Belarus’s role in the war in Ukraine.
Following a heated exchange with a Ukrainian journalist last week, in which her previous personal links to president Alexander Lukashenko were highlighted, Sabalenka, 25, said she “did not feel safe” and opted out of a general press conference after her third-round match on Friday night.
She did the same thing after her win yesterday, instead taking questions from a WTA representative, who did not ask about the politics surrounding her match with former world No 3 Svitolina. The quarter-final will undoubtedly offer another chapter to this unwanted saga.
Asked about the prospect of playing Sabalenka, considering the noise around her this past week, Svitolina was unmoved: “Well, I have played the last two matches against Russian players so it will not change, everything will be same. I’m used to it now, it’s going to be the same.”
Australian Open champion Sabalenka had her toughest test so far on the court against Stephens, despite storming to a 5-0 lead within 20 minutes. It looked like the match was going to be a complete wipeout, but the American capitalised on Sabalenka’s mounting error card and made it a contest.
It was the first time this tournament that a women’s match was scheduled in the prime-time night session on Philippe-Chatrier, reserved for what organisers deem the match of the day. As a meeting between two grand slam champions, it was more than worthy of the billing. But there still remained a certain pressure to deliver a good show, because the women’s draw had been snubbed seven nights in a row by tournament director Amelie Mauresmo.
This is partly due to fears a two-set rout would leave punters – who buy tickets for just one match – short-changed. The French crowd can be brutal too. When Sabalenka went a double-break up, one spectator shouted, “All for you Amelie” and smatterings of laughter rippled around the stadium.
But Stephens, a former US Open champion and a finalist in Paris five years ago, did not go down without a fight. She won five games in a row, saved three set points and pushed Sabalenka to a testy tie-break. The crowd got right behind her, and even booed Sabalenka, who leaked 25 unforced errors in the opening set – six more than she had hit in her entire third round match. Stephens, 30, was probably the better player in the tie-break, but Sabalenka somehow stopped her surge when it mattered.
She doubled over and clenched her fist when she clinched the tie-break 7-5 with an unreturnable serve. Once she contained her mistakes in the second set, Sabalenka’s all-out attacking force was too good for smooth and serene defender Stephens. This was Sabalenka’s 33rd win of the year – a world leading tally – and keeps her on track for a projected showdown in the final with world No 1 Iga Swiatek.
But facing Svitolina tomorrow will be a massive test of her mental resilience, in possibly the most high profile sporting contest between a Ukrainian and Belarusian or Russian player since the conflict began 17 months ago. “She’s playing really great tennis here in Paris, moving well,” Sabalenka said of Svitolina. “I just have to be patient and wait for that perfect shot to finish the point. Don’t rush myself. Just go there and fight and show my best tennis.”
Svitolina, 28, beat Russia’s top player Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 7-6 earlier yesterday to reach the quarter-finals for the second time in her career. It continued a remarkable run for the world No 192, playing in her first slam since giving birth to her daughter last October.
Kasatkina gave her a thumbs up at the match’s conclusion, in support of her decision not to shake hands with Russian or Belarusian opponents, as she is a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. “I’m really thankful for her position that she took,” Svitolina said. “She’s really brave person to say it publicly, that not so many players did.”
French Open controversy after doubles pair disqualified for hitting ball girl
By Molly McElwee in Paris
A Japanese doubles player was disqualified from Roland Garros on Sunday after accidentally hitting a ball girl during her third round match.
Miyu Kato and her doubles partner Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia were harshly ejected from the tournament after the seemingly innocuous incident turned more serious, when the girl hit by the ball began sobbing.
Early in the second set Kato was stood close to the net and carelessly flicked a ball towards the ball girl at the back of the other side of the court.
She did so not in anger, but in an apparent effort to help pass the ball to where her opponents would be serving the next game. However the girl, who had a ball in each hand already, could not swerve out of the way quickly enough and was caught on the back of the neck.
Umpire Alexandre Juge gave Kato a warning for the offence, but the situation escalated when her opponents, Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo, alerted him that the ball girl was crying. Bouzkova was even heard suggesting the girl was bleeding.
The pair continued lobbying for Kato and Sutjiadi to be defaulted, as things got more heated on Court 14, with one person in the crowd shouting out “disgrace”.
Soon enough the supervisor and tournament referee Remy Azemar were called to the court and, after conferring with the umpire and the still crying ball girl, disqualified Kato and Sutjiadi.
Love Island is returning with a batch of new contestants set to make their dramatic entrance into the villa in Majorca on Monday.
The 10th series of the ITV dating show will see broadcaster Maya Jama present her first eight-week summer series after taking over from Laura Whitmore for the last winter series in South Africa.
Among the contestants is 24-year-old Tyrique Hyde, a semi-professional footballer from Essex, who is deaf in one ear, musical theatre performer Molly Marsh, 21, from Doncaster, and 23-year-old model Ella Thomas, from Glasgow, who has appeared in a Burna Boy music video.
They will be joined by Jess Harding, 22, an aesthetics practitioner from London, estate agent Catherine Agbaje, 22, from Dublin, and gas engineer Mitchel Taylor, 26, from Sheffield.
Completing the line-up are Mehdi Edno, 26, from Bordeaux in France, beautician Ruchee Gurung, 24, from Sutton, Surrey, business development executive George Fensom, 24, from Bedford, and business owner Andre Furtado, 21, from Dudley.
Ahead of the first episode, fans were given the chance to vote on the Love Island app for which contestants will be paired up, with the results expected to be revealed during Monday evening’s episode.
ITV recently confirmed that contestants will have to disable their social media accounts while on the show to protect both them and their families – a policy which was introduced during the last winter series.
As part of the broadcaster’s duty of care policies, islanders will again complete video training and guidance across a range of topics including “mutually respectful behaviour in relationships” after the last summer series prompted thousands of complaints to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.
Many of the complaints related to “alleged misogynistic and bullying behaviour” by some islanders, although they were not upheld.
Made In Chelsea star Sam Thompson and Indiyah Polack, who was a finalist on the show last year, are joining as regular panellists on Love Island’s Aftersun programme.
The show has once again partnered with eBay as its series sponsor to help “fight against fast fashion” by stocking the islanders’ wardrobe with pre-loved clothing from the site.
In addition, this year features an “eBay chute” which will allow the contestants to return their clothes so they can be relisted on the website.
The bathrooms also boast a message from the breast cancer charity CoppaFeel reminding them to check their chest for lumps and bumps which could be a sign of the disease.
– Love Island returns to ITV2 and ITVX at 9pm on Monday June 5.
In an earlier interview with the BBC’s Amol Rajan, Schofield said: “The last time we had a conversation was when I texted Holly and said, ‘Don’t reply’ – this was after the statement last week – ‘Don’t reply, you’re probably not allowed to, but I am deeply deeply sorry that I lied to you.”
On Wednesday, ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall is due to give evidence to a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint-handling following Schofield’s admission.
This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby is due to return to the sofa on Monday alongside Josie Gibson as the ITV show continues to face controversy in the wake of Phillip Schofield’s departure.
Willoughby, 42, has been on a two week half-term break following the shock departure of her former co-host Schofield and his subsequent revelation of an affair with a younger ITV male employee.
Her return to presenting duties was confirmed at the end of Friday’s episode of This Morning, which was hosted by Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary, and that Gibson will be filling in as co-host.
The Sun newspaper has since reported that Willoughby is planning to address the Schofield controversy on the show, telling viewers how difficult it has been behind the scenes.
It comes after Schofield said he “didn’t tell anybody” about his affair with his former This Morning colleague, confirming Willoughby “did not know” in a tell-all interview with BBC’s Amol Rajan.
Similarly in his interview with the Sun, the 61-year-old presenter apologised to Willoughby for lying to her about his relationship, saying: “I’ve lost my best friend”.
He added: “I let her (Holly) down. I let that entire show down. I let the viewers down.
“Holly did not know (about the affair) and she was one of the first texts that I sent, to say: ‘I am so, so sorry that I lied to you’.
“She didn’t reply and I understand why she didn’t reply as well. So yeah, if anyone is in any way linking Holly to this, that is absolutely, wholly untrue.”
The duo, who had presented the show together since 2009 and also co-hosted Dancing On Ice before Schofield resigned from ITV, had been open about their close friendship over the years.
Willoughby’s return comes as the ITV show has been plagued by allegations of “toxicity”, including from former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes who has alleged there was a “total cover-up” over the Schofield affair.
The show’s former resident doctor, Dr Ranj Singh, also hit out at a “toxic” culture, saying he raised concerns about “bullying and discrimination” two years ago when he worked there and afterwards felt like he was “managed out” for whistleblowing.
In a letter from ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall to Parliament on Wednesday, she said an external review conducted following a complaint made by Dr Ranj found “no evidence of bullying or discrimination”.
Meanwhile, former This Morning head of news Emily Maddick, who worked on the show from September to December 2019, claimed she quit the programme due to “bullying, sexism and a toxic culture of fear and intimidation”.
On Saturday, This Morning editor Martin Frizell told a Sky News reporter to “read between the lines” amid claims of toxicity, adding: “I think there’s some scores being settled.”
Dame Carolyn has been called to a parliamentary committee on June 14 to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following Schofield’s exit.
On Wednesday, she confirmed the broadcaster had instructed barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers to carry out an external review of the facts.
Comedian and horror author Joe Pasquale has said performing a stand-up routine in front of an expecting audience terrifies him, but he does it because “I like being scared”.
The 61-year-old is kicking off his comedy tour The New Normal – 40 Years Of Cack on July 28 after four decades performing stand-up, weeks after his third collection of horror stories is set to be published.
Of Mice And Wolfmen, a collection of a dozen horror tales, follows on from his first two horror books Deadknobs And Doomsticks volume one and two, and will be published on June 16.
As a life-long fan of horror, Pasquale told the PA news agency: “I like being scared and doing stand up scares me, I think that’s part of it.”
He continued: “When I was 13, I got ran over and it was quite a bad break, I was off school for the best part of a year.
“The plastering was almost full body and I had the next six months sleeping on the settee downstairs, couldn’t climb stairs, couldn’t use a toilet, had to use a bedpan, that was fun as a 13-year-old.
“In those days there was only three channels…it would invariably have horror films on every night and I got obsessed. My mum also used to collect these porcelain antique dolls…She must have had about 50 of them, all around the living room.
“You couldn’t go anywhere in the house without a doll looking at you and they had these spooky, really creepy, glass eyes. Every night I would look at these dolls and I swear their eyes would move…and then I became obsessed.”
“That (time) was the birth of my horror love,” he told PA.
The foreword to his latest horror book has been written by The Chase presenter, actor and singer Bradley Walsh.
Pasquale said: “Brad and I, we’ve known each other for 40 years, so we started out doing talent shows together and I always send him my stories and he’s obsessed by how my brain works because his brain doesn’t work like that.”
In 2004, Pasquale charmed viewers on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! with his trademark high-pitched voice and his career received a bounce after, starring in ITV comedy special An Audience With Joe Pasquale in 2005.
Four decades after he first began calling bingo at a holiday camp because he did not want to do a “proper job”, Pasquale is returning to the stage for his stand-up tour.
Pasquale said his comedy is like “watching a nine-year-old on stage, it’s very silly, very stupid”.
He said: “There’s so many bad things going on in the world and I know a lot of comics draw their material from the state of the world but I think for me personally, if I want to go and watch some comedy, I don’t want to be reminded of all the bad things in life, I want to go and forget about it for an hour.
“I actually think my job is to make people free of concern for the amount of time that they’re watching the show.
“When I’m doing the show, I’m free of concern completely. The only concern I have is to make those people laugh…that’s an escapism for me, as much as it is for the audience.”
He added: “They always say laughter is the best medicine, but I think it’s true.”
Joe Pasquale’s book of horror short stories Of Mice And Wolfmen and tickets for his stand-up tour The New Normal – 40 Years Of Cack are on sale now.
A pill has been shown to halve the risk of death from a certain type of lung cancer when taken daily after surgery to remove the tumor, according to clinical trial results presented on Sunday.
The results were unveiled in Chicago at the largest annual conference of cancer specialists, hosted by the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
Lung cancer is the form of the disease that causes the most deaths, with approximately 1.8 million fatalities every year worldwide.
The treatment developed by the pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca is called osimertinib and is marketed under the name Tagrisso. It targets a particular type of lung cancer in patients suffering from so-called non-small cell cancer, the most common type, and showing a particular type of mutation.
These mutations, on what is called the epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR, affect 10 percent to 25 percent of lung cancer patients in the United States and Europe, and 30 to 40 percent in Asia.
The clinical trial included some 680 participants at an early stage of the disease (stages 1b to 3a), in more than 20 countries. They had to have been operated on first to remove the tumor, then half of the patients took the treatment daily, and the other a placebo.
The result showed that taking the tablet resulted in a 51 percent reduction in the risk of death for treated patients, compared to placebo.
After five years, 88 percent of patients who took the treatment were still alive, compared to 78 percent of patients who took the placebo.
These data are “impressive,” said Roy Herbst of Yale University, who presented them in Chicago. The drug helps “prevent the cancer from spreading to the brain, to the liver, to the bones,” he added at a press conference.
About a third of cases of non-small cell cancers can be operated on when detected, he said.
– Already on the market –
“It is hard for me to convey, I think, how important this finding is,” said Nathan Pennell of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation at the press conference.
“We started entering the personalized therapy era for early stage patients,” said Pennell, who did not take part in the trials, and noted that “we should firmly close the door on one-size-fits-all treatment for people with non- small cell lung cancer.”
Osimertinib is already authorized in dozens of countries for various indications, and has already been given to some 700,000 people, according to a press release from AstraZeneca.
Its approval in the United States for early stages in 2020 was based on previous data that showed an improvement in patient disease-free survival, that is, the time a patient lives without a recurrence of cancer.
But not all doctors have adopted the treatment, and many were waiting for the data on overall survival that was presented on Sunday, said Herbst.
He stressed the need to screen patients to find out if they have the EGFR mutation. Otherwise, he said, “we cannot use this new treatment.”
Osimertinib, which targets the receptor, causes side effects that include as severe fatigue, skin rashes or diarrhea.
Allison Pearson on Tuesday wrote how the NHS failed Jon Chapple, 34, whose diagnosis of incurable bowel cancer was delayed because the NHS turned into a “Covid-only service.” Jon is now dependent on “the kindness of strangers” and is crowdfunding to have a revolutionary cancer vaccine in Germany.
Since the publication of Ms Pearson’s article, Telegraph readers have managed to contribute £30,000 to help with Jon’s cancer treatment, surpassing his original £75,000 target to reach a total of £108,000.
In response to the incredible generosity of our readers and all those who have donated, Jon said: “I’m supposedly a writer, but I am struggling to find the words. I’m just overwhelmed. The generosity of people is unbelievable, and I know it’s a cliche but it has rather restored my faith in humanity after being so badly let down earlier on.
“Aside from the money, the donors have given me a gift that’s completely priceless: hope. Even compared to a week ago, I’m feeling so much more positive about the future and for that I can’t thank them enough.
“So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I hope to be able to pay it forward someday.”
Upon reading Jon’s story, Telegraph readers have detailed their own experiences of being treated by the NHS throughout the pandemic.
While some have received “timely and exemplary treatment”, others shared how they and their loved ones have too been failed by the system.
Below, we share a selection of their own cases:
‘I’m alive, pretty much thanks to my own efforts’
Telegraph reader Penelope Simpson’s case was one of survival purely based on her financial status, “bloody-minded determination to live” and her “ability to fight back against a system content to condemn you to death”.
Attending the results of a biopsy alone, where Ms Simpson was “forced to stand with about thirty others as apparently chairs would spread Covid”, the first thing the consultant said to her was ”pull your mask further up your nose. There is a pandemic”.
The eight-minute life-changing consultation culminated in the consultant informing Ms Simpson that although surgery should be done within two weeks, it was unlikely to be before May – and it was November at the time.
Ms Simpson said there was “no sorry, no explanation. Dismissed and could I send the next person in”.
She drove home “shaking with anger” and phoned BUPA, “who saved my life”.
“I eventually got my surgery three days after the biopsy diagnosis, but only because I was prepared to pay. I had BUPA coverage but had never expected to have to use it for cancer. The chaos was such that I did not know until 20:00 the night before where surgery would take place. Eventually I was scheduled at the BMI Bournemouth which appeared to be totally empty”, recalled Penelope.
Penelope later developed a seroma, “which is basically a fluid bulb that was bigger than my remaining breast”. Alarmed at the red stain spreading across her body, Penelope’s friend telephoned the local surgery. She was told to draw a felt tip pen around the stain and to ring back if the infection had spread.
“In one hour it covered my torso and my friend called the surgery in alarm as I put my breast up to a camera so that the GP wouldn’t have the inconvenience of visiting a patient. Utterly humiliating.
“Nobody would come out, and eventually it was agreed that I should go there. It was a cold winter’s evening, I was a 70-year-old woman just released from major surgery and I had to stand outside the door of the surgery trying to persuade the receptionist to let me in. I shall never forget yelling ‘I’ve got breast cancer’ before the door was opened.”
After the GP diagnosed that Ms Simpson was going into septicaemia, she was admitted to hospital.
“I can remember her on the phone begging local hospitals, ‘well somebody’s got to take her.’”
Penelope thankfully recovered. She said: “I saw the oncologist, who told me that NHS guidelines stipulated that chemotherapy should commence no more than six weeks after surgery. It was January, and he told me it would be August before I could be treated.
“I threw a tantrum, used my verbal skills to berate the system, and eventually got them to bring it forward to March. I won the battle but I went home weakened by having to threaten and berate in order to get treatment.”
To this day, Penelope is “sickened” and although her oncologist had been helpful, “there is no rapport and absolutely no care. I have had to fight every step of the way.”
So, where is Penelope Simpson now?
“Well, I’m alive, pretty much thanks to my own efforts, supportive friends and wonderful BUPA. But, I have late stage aggressive cancer which should have been caught much earlier if mammograms had not been stopped.
“The NHS is a communist-style system operating in a capitalist country. Like all monopolies, it has no accountability and therefore is left to continue in a downward spiral.
“I am happy to pay for my own health care as should anybody with the means to do so, but it is outrageous that I also have to pay for a national system that is nothing short of a disgrace.”
‘My mother has MND – it took over a year for the neurology clinic to contact her for an initial discussion’
“The NHS is an appalling service”, reader Michael Thompson began as he shared how his mother received inadequate care for motor neurone disease.
Mr Thompson’s mother developed symptoms in January 2020, but it took over a year for the neurology clinic to contact her for an initial discussion, and “as it took so long, my mum was forced to go private initially,” he said.
He could not believe “the GP surgery didn’t have a process to flag up and act upon receiving a consultant’s letter that someone is terminally ill,” and branded the NHS “a completely useless system from an administration perspective.”
There was no initiative to try new treatments for his mother’s condition and no real interest in the ongoing research or trials, “they basically say nothing has ever worked so don’t bother. Frankly, a go away and die attitude,” Mr Thompson despaired.
He described it as “frustratingly maddening” that even now after the pandemic is over, there are “two specific nurses at the clinic for what can’t be more than 100 or so patients, seen once every three months or so. They never send appointments out, no follow up of patients by those nurses. No idea what they do all day as they’re not on a ward.”
‘If a doctor had seen her they would, I hope, have realised the weight loss was trouble’
Carol Scott lost her closest friend 18 months ago to lung cancer. Ms Scott explained her friend was “unable to see a doctor and just prescribed antibiotics over the phone.”
Finally, her severe weight loss made her son take her to hospital, he had not seen her for a while due to lockdowns. She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and died two months later. Incidentally, she was never a smoker.
“I am still furious about my friend. If a doctor had seen her they would, I hope, have realised the weight loss was trouble. Family being told to keep away meant they didn’t see her for a while, too.”
‘My son died in June 2021 because the telephone doctor failed to diagnose pancreatitis’
In another heart wrenching case, reader Anthony Wands shares how he lost his son, Jeremy, in June 2021 “because the telephone doctor failed to diagnose pancreatitis.”
Anthony explains how Jeremy was “palmed off with ‘stomach upset’ for nausea and ‘back strain’ for searing pain in his back.”
Anthony’s late son was tragically found dead on the bathroom floor, aged only 32.
‘No one is ever made to accept responsibility for their conduct’
Tom Hawk’s wife, who is dying of vascular dementia, remains in “an unnecessary two-month incarceration on an acute endocrine ward,” of which he is trying to “get her out”. Mr Hawk said the worst aspect of his situation is “dealing with the jobsworth attitude of NHS employees”.
“No amount of money can fix attitude when no one is ever made to accept responsibility for their conduct,” he continued.
‘I despise the NHS and their cowardly abandonment of the people who pay them’
Simon Bell exhibited all the symptoms of cancer during lockdown. He detailed how his GP surgery “wouldn’t even let me in the building. I had to wave samples at them through the window, and they prescribed antibiotics.”
“Finally, once they went back to work, I got my diagnosis. Luckily, in my case, surgery is still an option.”
Mr Bell said: “I despise the NHS and their cowardly abandonment of the people who pay them.”
‘It is not fair to say the NHS was Covid-only during lockdown’
Dora Beatriz Ridgway, on the other hand, received exemplary treatment from the NHS during lockdowns. She had “two cardiac ablations at the Hammersmith Hospital” and was “amazed by the number of people who were having cardiac procedures, and by the number of people working normally.”
Dora added: “I realise that many people were not so fortunate…I am very sorry for this young man’s plight and I hope he gets the treatment he needs. However, it is not fair to say the NHS was Covid-only during lockdown.”
‘As with a lot of the NHS, it’s a case of the spin of a wheel’
Likewise, another unnamed reader’s loved one had a more positive experience. The reader deduces that, “as with a lot of the NHS, it’s a case of the spin of a wheel”.
The reader tells of their sister-in-law’s diagnosis with stage 3 ovarian cancer during lockdown, but how she “received both timely and exemplary treatment.”
“Consistency of treatment has been a lottery for a long time”, the reader continues.
The former prime minister has vowed to send all his messages to the official investigation directly, circumventing the Cabinet Office.
It comes as a former SNP health secretary has claimed Scotland’s Covid inquiry is yet to demand that WhatsApp messages from key figures such as Nicola Sturgeon are handed over.
Jeane Freeman, who was in post during the most acute phase of the pandemic, revealed on Sunday that she was yet to receive any request to disclose private discussions, despite bereaved families calling for the move.
But he said taxpayer funds must be used for “appropriate purposes”.
The letter to Mr Johnson, revealed by The Sunday Times, said: “The funding offer will cease to be available to you if you knowingly seek to frustrate or undermine, either through your own actions or the actions of others, the Government’s position in relation to the inquiry unless there is a clear and irreconcilable conflict of interest on a particular point at issue.”
The lawyers added that funding would “only remain available” if he complies with conditions such as sending the Cabinet Office “any witness statement or exhibit which you intend to provide to the inquiry so that it can be security checked by appropriate officials”.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said the letter was “intended to protect public funds” and “in no way prevents Mr Johnson from providing whatever evidence he wants to”.
It is understood that he will not lose the taxpayer funding even if he decides to send all his unredacted WhatsApps and notebooks to the investigation because they are deemed to be his personal property.
He would be more likely to forgo the public money if he opted not to co-operate with the investigation by refusing to hand over relevant evidence, and was subsequently forced to defend himself in court.
Mr Jenrick told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “It’s entirely up to the former prime minister how he co-operates with the inquiry – if he wishes to send his documents or WhatsApp messages to them then he’s at liberty to do so.
“I think a letter has been sent from the Cabinet Office to him to say that as he is using taxpayers’ funds to pay for his lawyers, then that funding has to be used for appropriate purposes.
“But he can advance whatever arguments he wants to and make whatever statements he wishes in his witness statement to the inquiry.
“There’s absolutely no sense that the Government will restrict what Boris Johnson wants to say. But if you use taxpayers’ funds, obviously you should make sure you’re using them appropriately.”
Mr Jenrick denied there were fears in No 10 that Rishi Sunak’s messages could reveal a plot to try to bring down Mr Johnson, saying: “No, as I say, the issue here is a simple legal one.”
Jonnie Irwindelighted fans on Saturday with a heart-melting family update, just days after he was admitted to hospital.
The presenter, who is currentlybattling terminal cancer, posted a sweet video of his three sons Rex, Rafa and Cormac playing outside in the sun-soaked garden. In the clip, his eldest son Rex, five, could be seen zipping across the lawn on a bright red bicycle.
Alongside the precious Instagram clip, Jonnie penned: “So it turns out Rex has taught himself to ride a bike. I put it down to all those trips on his @bobike balance bike.”
He went on to say: “Rafa looks hot on his heels. Now to find him a bigger bike as he’s already grown out of [the] fireman bike.”
Fans and friends were quick to inundate the comments section with touching comments. “Well done Rex, great achievement [arm muscle emoji] little brothers won’t be far behind. Big milestone reached,” remarked one, while a second noted: “Magic moments!“
A third commented: “Precious moments when you watch your child suddenly able to do something that a moment/five minutes/a day ago they couldn’t do,” and a fourth gushed: “The little one and his pedals though.”
Jonnie’s social media update comes after he was admitted to hospital earlier this week. It’s not known whether Jonnie is still in hospital, or at home recovering with his family.
He made the announcement on Instagram, writing: “In hospital this week monitoring a changeover in my pain management regime.
“Fingers crossed I’ll be out in time to make an appearance on Sunday for this weekends @aplaceinthesunofficial LIVE event at @olympialondon in Kensington. It’s packed with presenters from Friday including @jasmineharman @benhillmantv @laurahamiltontv @benhillmantv… Hope to see you there…x.”
After keeping hisdevastating diagnosisprivate for two years, Jonnie opened up about his illness back in November 2022.
Speaking exclusively to HELLO! Magazine, he revealed: “I don’t know how long I have left, but I try to stay positive and my attitude is that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it. I set little markers – things I want to be around for. I got into the habit of saying: ‘Don’t plan ahead because I might not be well enough.’
“But now I want to make plans. I want to make memories and capture these moments with my family because the reality is, my boys are going to grow up not knowing their dad and that breaks my heart.“
Jonnie first noticed something was wrong with his health back in August 2020 when his vision went blurry while driving. The tests soon revealed he had lung cancer which had spread to his brain, and he was given just six months to live.
Cancer drugs and chemotherapy have helped prolong Jonnie’s prognosis while he has continued to work as much as possible.