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Belgian minister Reynders comes under fire for blacking up at street parade

By Staff Reporters

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has drawn criticism over a decision to parade in central Brussels wearing black face paint.

Mr Reynders joined a philanthropic group known as the Noirauds ('Blacks') for their annual gathering, when they dress in tail coats and top hats with their faces painted black and take to the streets of Brussels.

Mr Reynders tweeted a photograph of himself at the parade on March 14, saying it helps raise funds for disadvantaged children.

However, Wouter Van Bellingen of the Minorities Forum said: "This is inappropriate and shows a total lack of empathy for people of colour, especially for a Foreign Minister who is our representative abroad."

Judge dismisses Satanic cult claims

Anti-paedophile campaigners who use the internet to spread "poisonous" lies about innocent people were condemned by a High Court judge yesterday, as she dismissed "fabricated" and "baseless" claims that a satanic cult abused children in London.

Mrs Justice Pauffley was asked to probe claims that two children, aged eight and nine, had been abused by a cult which drank the blood of infants.

The children and their mother and her partner had alleged that their father - from whom she is separated - was the leader of a north London cult.

Babies "were supplied from all over the world for the group", Justice Pauffley said yesterday, outlining the lurid allegations.

"They were bought, injected with drugs and then sent by TNT or DHL to London. The assertions were that babies had been abused, tortured and then sacrificed. Their throats were slit, blood was drunk and cult members would then dance wearing babies' skulls."

Mrs Justice Pauffley was called in to review the evidence at the request of social services. Yesterday, she ruled that the children's mother had forced them to make unfounded claims to police.

Ukip MEP suspended over expenses

A Ukip MEP, who infamously referred to a Thai woman as a "ting tong", has been suspended from the party after "serious financial" allegations about her expenses.

Janice Atkinson, who represents the South East of England, was dropped as Ukip's general election candidate for Folkestone and Hythe and also had the party whip withdrawn.

A party spokesman said Ukip was "incredibly disappointed with Ms Atkinson". He said she "appears to have exercised extremely poor judgment in acting in a way that the party has never and would never condone".

Her suspension came after undercover journalists from The Sun newspaper claimed to have secretly filmed a member of her staff appearing to be involved in making a bogus expenses claim.

A source close to Nigel Farage said they had not yet seen all the evidence of the alleged wrongdoing but were "satisfied the conditions are such that we have had to suspend her".

"She appears to have been part of this attempt to solicit a receipt that was not all it should have been," the source said.

Netanyahu softens stand against Palestinian state

Days after winning Israel's election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be backtracking from hard-line statements that ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Mr Netanyahu has said in a TV interview that he remains committed to Palestinian statehood - if conditions in the region improve. He said: "I haven't changed my policy."

Late in the campaign, Mr Netanyahu said he would not agree to establish a Palestinian state in the current climate. The two-state solution is a key US foreign policy objective.

One Direction's Zayn quits world tour 'due to stress'

One Direction star Zayn Malik has quit the boyband's world tour after being "signed off with stress" and is returning home to the UK.

It comes after the singer was forced to defend himself online and declare his love for his fiancee - Little Mix member Perrie Edwards - after pictures emerged of him apparently close to another woman. A band spokesman said: "Zayn has been signed off with stress and is flying back to the UK to recuperate. The band wish him well and will continue with their performances in Manila and Jakarta."

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