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Russian Meerkat Ads Pulled Over Ukraine War

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Comparethemarket price comparison site has pulled ads featuring the animated rich Russian meerkat Aleksandr Orlov from our screens this week.

The firm said it had reviewed its media strategy due to the sensitivities around the Russian invasion. Orlov, and sidekick Sergei, feature in one of the advertising industry’s most recognised campaigns.

The firm stressed in a statement: “The meerkats are fictional characters. They have no association with Russia and the current situation. We are continually reviewing our advertising to ensure we’re being sensitive to the current situation.”

The meerkat campaign was first created by the advertising agency VCCP in London. It was voted the nation’s favourite TV advert in 2016, after a Marketing magazine poll.

The meerkat ads have been running since 2009, and have been so successful that Orlov’s “simples” catchphrase was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2019. The characters have spawned spin-off cuddly toys, sent as promotions to people who used the price comparison site.

A memoir for the fictional character Aleksandr Orlov, entitled “A Simples Life” reached Amazon’s 100 bestselling books in 2010. With book royalties, the fictional character said he planned to re-marble the meerkat mansion’s roof. The character has 55,800 followers on Twitter.

Comparethemarket’s move underlines how the Ukraine war has put a focus on companies with Russia links, no matter how remote.

Do you think this is a right move?

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Deborah James Awarded Damehood After Raising Over £3,000,000 for Charity

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Deborah James has said she is ‘blown away’ after being made a Dame for her tireless campaigning for cancer charities.

The inspirational broadcaster and author announced earlier this week that she is receiving hospice care at home after stopping her cancer treatment, and has said she ‘could have weeks to live at most’.

In recent days, the You, Me & The Big C host has raised over £3million for charities that have helped her over the past five years, through her Bowelbabe Fund.

After calls for her to receive the Royal honour, it has been revealed that Deborah is now officially Dame Deborah James.

‘I don’t know what to say. I’m blown away and feel incredibly honoured,’ she said reacting to the news.

She added ‘I don’t feel like I deserve this. I can’t tell you what this means to my family, it’s so much to take in.’

Her husband Sebastien Bowen, said the public support of the fundraiser has ‘brought a piercing ray of light and hope into this, the darkest of times’, adding that the Damehood is ‘so truly deserved’.

Downing Street said the Queen was ‘pleased to approve the honour of damehood’ be bestowed upon Deborah James.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed Dame Deborah as an figure of inspiration to the country.

‘If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it,’ the leader said.

‘Deborah has been an inspiration and her honesty, warmth and courage has been a source of strength to so many people.’

Thank you for all your incredible work.

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EuroMillions: UK ticket holder claims £184m jackpot

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One lucky ticket-holder’s life has changed forever after winning the £184million EuroMillions jackpot. It means they have become the biggest ever National Lottery winner, operator Camelot has said.

Whoever they are, they have knocked the anonymous winner of £170million in October 2019 off the top spot. They have also become the National Lottery’s 14th winner of more than £100million.

The winner, who is yet to be named, is also the second person in the UK to win the EuroMillions jackpot this year, after someone bagged £109million in February.

The winning numbers were 3, 25, 27, 28 and 29 – plus the Lucky Star numbers 4 and 9. One ticket matched all seven numbers to win £184,262,899.10.

Senior winners’ adviser for the National Lottery, Andy Carter said: “What an amazing night for one UK ticket-holder who has scooped the incredible £184million EuroMillions jackpot – they have become the UK’s biggest ever National Lottery winner.”

The claim will now go through a validation process to ensure terms and conditions are met and once the ticket has been validated the winner can choose whether or not to remain anonymous.

What would you do with all that money?

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Baby P’s Killer Mum Tracey Connelly Set for Prison Release after Judge Gives Green Light

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Tracey Connelly, the mother of Baby P, who died after months of abuse, will be released from prison after the Parole Board rejected a Government challenge against its ruling.

The decision comes after Justice Secretary Dominic Raab appealed against the recommendation to free Tracey Connelly from prison.

Connelly was jailed at the Old Bailey in 2009 for causing or allowing the death of her 17-month-old son Peter at their home in Tottenham, north London, on August 3 2007.

Dominic Raab said the decision demonstrated why the system “needs a fundamental overhaul – including a ministerial check for the most serious offenders”.

Now 40, this was Connelly’s fourth parole review after she was released on licence in 2013 but recalled to prison in 2015 for breaching her parole conditions by “developing intimate personal relationships” online and inciting another resident at her accommodation to engage in “inappropriate sexualised behaviour”.

In a statement, the Parole Board said: “In summary, the judge has concluded that the panel did take into consideration all evidence mentioned by the application and made rational conclusions.

“The reconsideration decision clarifies that the weight given to the evidence given by the Secretary of States witnesses, who supported release, and the proposed external controls, was proportionate and the reasons were clearly outlined in the decision letter.

“The final ground on the rationality of the outcome was also rejected on the grounds of not reaching the threshold, as defined by law, for becoming unreasonable.”

The Parole Board, which is independent of government, received a formal request to review the decision to free Connelly last week.

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