Major League Baseball’s playoffs begin Tuesday with the American League wild card game between the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics, and chances are you’ve heard or read some version of this aphorism over the past few days:“Baseball’s playoffs are a crapshoot.”It’s kind of true. MLB’s postseason — some call it a “gauntlet of randomness” — tempts with a million narratives that seem to legitimately explain why some teams rise and others fall in October. But most attempts to solve the playoff puzzle have failed. (To wit: It once looked like Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight’s editor in chief, had figured out the “secret sauce” that determines postseason success, but recent results have led Baseball Prospectus to retire his metric.)The only thing practically every study of the postseason has in common is that a team’s overall regular-season performance, and little else, matters when predicting its playoff fortunes.However, despite having 162 games per team, baseball’s regular season is quite short relative to other sports’ in terms of the amount of information conveyed by its standings. (Several years ago, I determined that MLB teams would have to play 610 games apiece for their win-loss records to offer as much certainty as the NBA’s 82-game schedule.) This is why baseball records must still be regressed about 30 percent of the way toward the mean to best approximate team talent.In predicting the postseason of another sport with a chaotic regular season — NCAA men’s basketball — FiveThirtyEight found that a team’s preseason reputation (as measured by its preseason AP and Coaches’ Poll rankings) carries some vestigial predictive power even after accounting for regular-season performance. All else being equal, surprising teams that rise from preseason obscurity to enjoy successful seasons tend to have shorter tournament runs than teams with similar records that were regarded more highly before the season. Is it possible the same effect exists in baseball?To test this, I gathered preseason Vegas over/unders and Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projected records back to 2005, then plugged those projections — and regressed versions of each team’s regular-season record — into a logit model attempting to predict the outcomes of every playoff game from 2005 to 2013. In accordance with every other failed study looking for magic postseason bullets, it appears that preseason projections don’t matter a bit when predicting the playoffs. I tested PECOTA and Vegas separately and together as a composite prediction, and neither was a significant predictor after controlling for a team’s regular-season performance.That’s good news for the Royals and Baltimore Orioles. Before the season began, neither was expected to crack .500 by the bookmakers or computers. And yet the Orioles ran away with the AL East and the Royals clinched a hard-fought wild card berth thanks to their best win total in 25 years. Despite the lack of confidence shown by prognosticators before the season, we should take their surprisingly great seasons at face value. (The same goes for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who made the playoffs after PECOTA looked down on them before the season.)All told, it’s just another case of the postseason defying simple explanations. That’s why the modern statheads’ best approach might be to embrace the chaos and appreciate the playoffs for what they are: an entertaining tournament among baseball’s top teams, not a scientific experiment designed to definitively identify the best team in a given season.
At the beginning of this season, Major League Baseball instituted a new set of rules to make the games go faster. The idea was to limit how often batters can step out of the box during at-bats, thereby shortening the delay between pitches. The Red Sox’s David Ortiz was not happy about these rules and suggested that the changes could harm his performance. As indicated by his temporary benching two months into the 2015 season, Ortiz may have been right.Thus far, the much-discussed batter’s box rule changes have had at most only a minor effect on the overall time of games. For individual batters, however, the impact of the rule has been anywhere from negligible to remarkable. Some hitters already had quick routines and didn’t need to make any alterations. Others liked to step off the plate after every pitch, a habit that the new rules outlaw.The older veterans have been the most affected by the rule change. I’ve shown before that older batters are the players most likely to dawdle, the 39-year-old Ortiz included. From last year to this year, Ortiz has decreased his time between pitches by almost two full seconds, according to Fangraphs.1The Baseball Prospectus numbers are different from Fangraphs’, perhaps because they exclude foul balls and delays longer than 60 seconds. However, both sets agree that Ortiz has sped up. Given Ortiz’s rather vocal opposition to the idea of cutting any time from his routine, it seems reasonable to believe that this was a change the new rules forced upon Big Papi.Whatever his struggles with the clock, Ortiz has endured a disappointing season so far at the plate. Big Papi is currently earning a .289 weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), 20 percent worse than an average hitter in this overall measure of offensive production. This mark is far off his projected performance (.365 wOBA, according to the Steamer projection system) and the worst he’s put up since 1999, when he played in only 10 games.Ortiz isn’t the only veteran slugger suddenly looking helpless with the bat. Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez has gone from tearing the cover off the ball (a .411 wOBA last year) to rarely getting it out of the infield this year (.246 wOBA). Aramis Ramirez has fallen apart in a similar fashion, dropping from .334 to .274. Some of these hitters’ underperformance can be blamed on injuries, small sample size and bad luck, but some of it likely comes down to decreased skill. Hitters over 35 who have racked up at least 100 plate appearances (PAs) have been an underwhelming lot this year, collectively falling .016 shy of their projections by wOBA (on average). To put that in perspective, that’s roughly the difference between the offensive performances of Mike Trout and Brandon Belt this year.Older hitters are always risky and come with the chance of sudden collapse, but last year hitters over 35 with at least 3002This is the same 100-PA cutoff as above, but roughly prorated out to the length of a full season. PAs hit only 3 points worse than their projected outcomes.It’s tougher to figure out whether it’s the rule changes that are causing older hitters to do poorly, though. For all hitters, no correlation is obvious between being forced to speed up and doing worse than expected.3The correlation coefficient is a measly -.025, nowhere close to statistically significant. The lack of a relationship implies that pace may not be the driving factor.When you look at it with regard to specific hitters, however, pace begins to seem much more important.4Here I am using data supplied to me by Pitch Info. Every pitch that’s thrown in the majors has a run value attached to it. If a 1-1 pitch is a strike, it increases the probability of a strikeout happening, and an average 1-2 count is going to lead to .0748 fewer runs than the 1-1 count. If we take those expected run values of each pitch, we can see whether a long delay before the pitch changes the number of runs that come from it.For all hitters in 2014, pitches that were preceded by more than a 30-second delay were worth about .0028 runs per pitch.5This data set does not include the first pitch of each at-bat. Pitches that followed less than a 30-second delay were worse (at -.0052 runs per pitch), but only by a small margin. So there was a very slight advantage to the batter to stepping out of the box or otherwise postponing the pitch.Ortiz, on the other hand, gains an inordinate amount of value from delaying the pitch.For Ortiz in 2014, pitches thrown after 30 seconds gained .0289 runs, whereas pitches under 30 seconds were worth only .0014 runs. The difference a few seconds makes to Ortiz is about three times the value for the average batter. This isn’t a fluke just for 2014: Four of the past five years have seen Ortiz reap great benefits from delaying the time between pitches by 30 seconds or more.Ramirez’s numbers tell a similar story. Since 2011, Ramirez has been building his value from delays that last more than 30 seconds. In 2014, Ramirez added .0556 runs per pitch when time between pitches was long, but he lost .0013 runs per pitch when it was short.We can also contrast Ortiz and Ramirez with younger sluggers. The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, for example, is every bit as powerful and patient as Ortiz (if not more so). But Stanton delivers his hits about equally whether the time between pitches is long or short (.0183 for long and .0224 for short). If anything, Stanton does slightly better when there’s less time.We can’t say for sure that the delay between pitches causes Ortiz or Ramirez to do better. But consider that these players are on the older side and are potentially losing the physical skills that made them threats in their younger years. In the absence of the muscles needed to adjust to pitches in the air, these more seasoned sluggers might make up for it with experience. By taking their time to anticipate what pitch is coming next, Ortiz and others like him may be able to guess where a pitch will go before it leaves the pitcher’s hand. In this way, experience can compensate for deteriorating bat speed.That process of educated guessing takes time, Ortiz says. If Big Papi feels hurried or distracted by the umpire (even if he isn’t actually taking any less time between pitches), it could contribute to a reduced ability to predict the next pitch. In turn, that could change hard-hit fly balls to weakly struck grounders, as Ortiz estimates the wrong location of an oncoming pitch.It’s hard to ever count Ortiz out. Many commentators incorrectly predicted his demise in 2009, but Ortiz came roaring back to post a couple of his best seasons in the last five years. Still, Ortiz is facing a new and difficult task: adjusting to his declining physical skills, potentially without having the time to use his most valuable mental skill (experience). Thanks to the new emphasis on pace of play, it’s a dilemma common to many of the elder statesmen of baseball.
The University of Michigan and Chris Webber can officially reconnect after a 10-year ban was lifted by the NCAA on Wednesday. The ban was also lifted for Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock.The NCAA forced Michigan to cut all ties from the three former Wolverines and the late Robert Traylor for a decade following a federal investigation. The investigation revealed that that deceased booster Ed Martin gave them more that $600,000 when they were student athletes.But now the option to renew the relationship with school is up to Webber, Taylor and Bullock. However, the Michigan has to be willing to want to reconnect as well.“I’ve never met any of those guys, and I am looking forward to meeting them,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday night. “If any of those guys are interested in meeting with me, that would be great.”Fellow Fab Five member Jalen Rose told the Detroit News that he has seen a line drawn that if Webber does not apologize then they will punish the rest of the members of the Fab Five. But Rose said it is not on Weber to issue an apology to Michigan in order to receive recognition for success that the group achieve, the university can do that despite what Webber decides to do.“This morning, I felt really good about the dissociation being over and having the opportunity to reunite with the University of Michigan,” Taylor told The AP on Wednesday. “I’m excited to talk to Mr. Brandon and coach (John) Beilein. While I had some success in the NBA, there was a void in my life because of the circumstances.”Martin, who died in February 2003, plead guilty to conspiracy to laundering money, saying that he used gambling money and combined other funds in loans to Webber, other players and their families.“Ed was made out to be something he wasn’t, he wasn’t a booster who steered you to a school or guy who preyed on kids,” Taylor said. “He was just a great guy in Detroit, who helped out anybody playing ball of any kind in the city.”With the ban lifted, Webber can possibly reunite with his fellow Fab Five members to see their 1992 and 1993 Final Four banners go back up in the rafters, if Michigan chooses to do so.Rose, Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson attended the NCAA final in Atlanta last month. However, Webber chose to sit in a suite to watch the game.“You can’t think of Michigan without thinking of us,” Webber said in a 2007 interview with the AP.
Check out FiveThirtyEight’s Women’s World Cup predictions.In its opening campaign Monday, the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) did not exactly look like a team that — heading into this tournament — had the best chance of winning this year’s World Cup title. It had a 68 percent chance of defeating Australia going into Monday, but when the whistle blew to signal the start of the game, the USWNT looked jittery. The team resorted to long balls and the all-too-familiar direct style of American play, completing only 73 percent of its passes in the first half (compared with a 77 percent pass-completion rate in the friendlies leading up to the World Cup).Despite the shaky start, the Americans were up 1-0 after only 12 minutes, thanks to a nasty deflection of Megan Rapinoe’s shot off an Australian defender. The Matildas equalized in the 28th minute from a left-footed shot by captain Lisa De Vanna, and by the 60th minute, the game was still tied 1-1 — right around the time that we said U.S. fans should start sweating as a draw starts to become the most likely outcome.But just one minute short of our 62nd-minute sweat-marker, Christen Press scored her first World Cup goal, and the U.S. finally began to settle down, completing 80 percent of their passes in the second half. The Americans went on to win 3-1, increasing their chances of advancing from Group D to 99 percent (up from 95 percent before Monday’s game).Germany, the other front-runner, however, opened its World Cup run with a resounding 10-0 win over the Ivory Coast (a team that had a Women’s Soccer Power Index rating of 75.5 — compared to Australia’s 88.8). But as probabilistic forecasts go, a victory that big increased Germany’s chances of winning the tournament. It is now at 31 percent, ahead of the Americans’ 28 percent.As of this morning, Germany is now the most likely team to win the World Cup. But we’d caution against reading into this too much; we’ve yet to see how Germany fares against an opponent like Australia. That won’t happen until Thursday, when Germany faces Norway (whose WSPI rating, 88.9, is almost identical to Australia’s). Although the matchup seems similar to U.S.-Australia, the Germans are heavily favored to win — 72 percent to Norway’s 11 percent.The U.S. and Germany aren’t likely to face each other until the semifinals, but we expect that they’ll continue to battle for the top spot in our Women’s World Cup predictions throughout this tournament. We knew these two teams would be the front-runners, but we’ll see if they continue to further distance themselves from the pack — Japan, which beat Switzerland in a meager 1-0 win on Monday night, now has a 9 percent chance of winning the tournament after starting the World Cup at 10 percent. France and Brazil stand at 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively, but these odds could change after their opening games today.
Inside and outside of Columbus, there is a crusade-like movement to put an end to the Jim Tressel era at Ohio State. Like King Leonidas in the movie “300,” I’ll lead the charge of the outmanned against the mass of millions who want to take out the OSU football coach. This much is clear already: Tressel is not going to step down neither because of withholding information from the NCAA nor because of any punishment levied against him. If anything, he’s now entrenching himself even deeper as an OSU football coach by refusing to step down while simultaneously increasing the pressure on the administration to fire him. Fortunately for him, athletic director Gene Smith and university President E. Gordon Gee gave him their full support during their press conference March 8. Imagine banning OSU from the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game and a bowl game. Can the NCAA bring itself to do it? So far, the only hit the program as a whole has taken is its reputation in the media. And the media onslaught isn’t forgiving toward Tressel. Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel wrote Monday: “Tressel’s tenure at Ohio State is numbered. It may even be over before the end of the calendar year.” This isn’t really a fresh take. It should have been evident since the original story came out that Tressel intentionally misled investigators in an effort to protect his players and their eligibility. If you didn’t believe he should have been fired a month ago, there’s no reason why Monday’s findings should change your mind. Nor should it increase the likelihood that he gets fired. He did violate his contract, and that is a fireable offense by the terms of his agreement with the university. It’s hard to say that’s honorable. Yet, in defiantly standing against the NCAA, he is honorable. Tressel had the option of sending a dagger into the dreams of a potential national championship season last year. Instead, he’s now daring the NCAA to slam the Buckeye football program. Is he putting the program in jeopardy? Not at all, considering the NCAA’s tendencies. If it proves to be as gutless as it usually is in handing out punishments, then the only one who should — and probably will — get hit hard is Tressel himself. Some media members are speculating that a bowl ban is a potential penalty. That would equate this situation to USC, which received a two-year bowl ban after former running back Reggie Bush received improper benefits. If OSU compliance has been as up-front about the situation as it leads on, there is no lack of institutional control here, unlike at USC. OSU athletics is a sacred cow and a huge moneymaker for the NCAA. With the slew of victories and Big Ten titles under Tressel’s watch, that hit isn’t even enough to make a dent to the people who matter most: potential recruits and current players. To them, Tressel’s legacy and the program’s reputation are as sterling as ever. I know Leonidas and his soldiers meet death in the end, but Tressel will survive this NCAA onslaught.
Contrary to what Ohio State said earlier this week, junior running back Jordan Hall, sophomore defensive back Corey Brown and junior defensive back Travis Howard will not be available for the game against Toledo on Saturday. OSU issued a statement late Friday afternoon that said Hall, Howard and Brown have not yet been reinstated by the NCAA, and therefore, will not participate in Saturday’s game against Toledo. “The university continues to work with the NCAA on the reinstatement process and is hopeful that the student-athletes will be reinstated soon,” the statement said. The statement also said that the university would have no further comment on the matter. The NCAA released a statement just minutes after OSU released its statement, clarifying some things concerning the players’ eligibility. “The nature and scope of their violations merit a minimum two-game suspension,” the NCAA’s statement read. “The facts submitted by the university have raised further questions that need to be answered before the reinstatement process is complete.” Thursday, it was reported that the players received $200 in cash during a fundraiser. This is consistent with the university’s statement last week, that the three players received impermissible benefits totaling less that $300 each. The Buckeyes will now continue to rely on the running back tandem of sophomore Carlos Hyde and freshman Rod Smith, the two backs featured in last Saturday’s game against Akron. There is a chance that sophomore running back Jaamal Berry will be available this week as well, but Berry has been nursing a hamstring injury and his status is uncertain.
The offense sputtered in the first quarter while Miami jumped to an early, 3-0, lead, but the Buckeyes, led by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and his receiving corps, scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to go up, 21-3, before the half. OSU didn’t look back. Miller set an OSU single-game rushing record for quarterbacks in the win with 161 yards and one touchdown, breaking Cornelius Greene’s 1974 record. Miller also tied Greene for the most 100-yard rushing games in OSU history with four. “The objective with Braxton is to make him from an athlete playing quarterback to a quarterback that manages,” Meyer said. “He has to be a leader and he showed that today. By game’s end, OSU junior Carlos Hyde collected 84 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and receivers Corey Brown, a senior, and Devin Smith, a sophomore, each collected a touchdown reception before a chorus of Buckeyes added scores of their own. There were frequent off-field reminders that Saturday was Meyer’s first game at OSU, from the game day program, which featured Meyer’s likeness, to a banner unfurled by the Block-O student cheering section. Meyer, squinting from the sideline, focused his attention not on the celebration that was his first game as OSU coach, but the Silver Bullets defense, which was on-field for the first official snap of his Buckeyes coaching tenure. OSU eventually forced a Miami punt on its first series. Then, at the 13:34 mark of the first quarter, Meyer’s spread offense made its Ohio Stadium debut. Miller took the first snap and rushed for three yards. The possession, which began deep in OSU territory, eventually stalled, ending in a punt. Twice in the first quarter, Meyer’s defense had its collective back pressed against its own end zone. In the first instance, Miami freshman kicker Kaleb Patterson missed a 24-yard field goal attempt about seven minutes into the game. OSU was unable to dodge a second bullet, however, and Patterson redeemed himself on Miami’s next possession with a 23-yard field goal that put his side up, 3-0, with 5:06 to play in the first quarter. The Buckeyes, perhaps fortunate not to be trailing by two touchdowns, staggered into the second quarter trailing 3-0. Meyer said the first 15 minutes were embarrassing. “Obviously, the first quarter was very poor football,” Meyer said. Not only was OSU’s offense sputtering early, but Miami’s offense was stealing the show. The RedHawks outgained OSU in the first quarter, 178-42, and the partnership of Miami senior quarterback Zac Dysert and junior receiver Nick Harwell gashed the Buckeyes’ defense several times. Dysert finished the game, 31-of-53 passing for 303 yards and two interceptions while Harwell ended the game with 8 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. The second quarter yielded different results from the very beginning. The first big blow for OSU came when Miller lobbed a 38-yard pass to Brown, allowing OSU to cross into RedHawks territory and down to the 23-yard line for the first time in the game. On the next play, Smith hauled in a one-handed circus catch in the back right corner of the south end zone to bring OSU fans to their feet – it was the first score and lead of the Meyer era. “It was definitely my best all time catch,” Smith said. “I’ve had some catches at practice but nothing like this one.” The touchdown catch by Smith, who dropped down on his side after corralling Miller’s pass with only his right hand, capped an 83-yard drive that put OSU up, 7-3. The Buckeyes came right back down the field on their next drive and tacked on another touchdown when Miller found Brown on a five-yard touchdown catch to cap a 57-yard drive. OSU’s offensive stagger was gone – now it was swaggering, marching to two touchdowns on consecutive drives that lasted a combined 3:25. Suddenly, the Buckeyes were outgaining Miami, 188-172. Then came another score. A 33-yard rush by Miller pushed the Buckeyes down to Miami’s 2-yard line and Hyde finished the drive two plays later with a 2-yard dive into the end zone. The cheers softened, fans began to walk about the aisles and stadium corridors – it was a comfortable lead that OSU would only add to. Then came Hyde’s desperate, goal line lunge as time expired in the first half. OSU lost out on a chance at more points in that instance, but Miller made up for it early in the second half. OSU was back on the offensive a mere 17 seconds into the third quarter. Miller dashed down the visiting sideline and stuttered at the tail end of a 66-yard run to shake the lone remaining Miami defender before crossing into the end zone. Make it 28-3, OSU, and counting. Meyer’s special teams unit, which contains a subunit referred to by coaches and players as “the freak show,” got in on the scoring action too. OSU forced a RedHawks punt on the visitors’ next possession, but a play that was officially scored as a “team rush” resulted in a snap that never reached Miami’s punter. The ball was loose and sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby came up with it in Miami’s end zone for another touchdown to make it 35- 3. At 10:24 in the third quarter, Miami struck back when Dysert connected with Harwell on a 44-yard touchdown pass to narrow its deficit to 35-10. The pace of the scoring slowed for both teams after that touchdown, and the 35-10 score line held into early in the fourth quarter. OSU senior cornerback Travis Howard intercepted Dysert for the second time at the 14:09 mark of the fourth quarter, setting the offense up at Miami’s 5-yard line. OSU redshirt junior quarterback Kenny Guiton entered the game for Miller, who twice fell to the turf with cramps, and handed the ball to Hyde who ran five yards for his second touchdown of the day. With 9:33 remaining in the game, the OSU points kept coming. Guiton drove the Buckeyes down and put the ball in senior fullback and captain Zach Boren’s hands. Boren ploughed into the end zone for the first rushing touchdown of his OSU career and extended his team’s stranglehold to 49-10. Lastly, freshman Bri’onte Dunn scored with 44 seconds to play in his OSU debut, and the Buckeyes led, 56-10. “Our offense is built to keep scoring,” Hyde said. “That’s Coach Meyer’s standard, and to have fun.” All the while, the Buckeyes’ defense stifled Miami’s rushing attack, allowing, if you can call it that, -1 yards in the game. And the Guiton-led offense did its job running out the clock, allowing OSU to finish the game with a comfortable distance between it and the RedHawks. OSU will host Central Florida next Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon. With Ohio State leading Miami (Ohio), 21-3, a mere three seconds before halftime, first-year coach Urban Meyer tried for a touchdown from the 1-yard line rather than take the easy field goal. “Ohio State should be able to knock it in from the 1-yard line,” Meyer said after the game. “I wanted to see how they would do.” The attempt, a desperate lunge by junior running back Carlos Hyde, fell short and OSU came up empty handed at the stroke of half time. Nevertheless, an impression was made – Meyer and his aggressive play-calling style had officially arrived in Columbus. It was that same aggressive style that allowed Meyer’s No. 18 Buckeyes (1-0) to cruise to a 56-10 win against the unranked Miami RedHawks (0-1) Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Members of the OSU women’s volleyball team huddle during a game against Lipscomb on Dec. 5 in Lexington, Ky., during the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament. OSU won, 3-0.Credit: Chris Slack / Lantern photographerLEXINGTON, Ky. — Heading into a match against Lipscomb, Ohio State women’s volleyball coach Geoff Carlston had faced the Bisons once in his tenure at OSU, and won. Now he can say he’s 2-0.The Buckeyes (22-11) swept Lipscomb (25-20, 25-14, 25-18) in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday night, and now have less than a day to prepare for their next opponent.“I thought we played great defense, which we knew we needed to do because they’re such a great defensive team,” Carlston said. “So it was a really good match. Obviously I’m really happy and excited we’re moving on.”In the first two sets alone, the Buckeyes had 16 blocks total, while the Bisons (21-9) had zero. Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe totaled for six in those two sets before finishing the night with 10, which is a career-high. Senior setter Taylor Sherwin tallied six total blocks, which was the second highest between the two teams.Freshman outside hitter Luisa Schirmer led all players in kills with 12 and added eight digs. With this being her first NCAA tournament action, she said she was glad her teammates were behind her all the way.“I (felt) full confidence with my team behind me,” Schirmer said. “And I think that’s a great attitude going into our next match.”Senior outside hitter Erin Sekinger tallied 10 kills, which was tied for the second-most kills in the match.Since the Buckeyes played at 5 p.m. on Friday in Lexington, Ky., they have a chance to scout their next potential opponent live.“As a team we’re going to go and watch both teams, see what they do and how they play,” Sekinger said.In addition to her six blocks, Sherwin had a game-high 32 assists on the night and added nine digs, while sophomore libero Valeria León had a game-high 17 digs and had the Buckeyes two lone service aces.With a game-high 25 blocks, the Buckeyes are looking to carry over their defense into Saturday’s game.“I think if we take our style of play that we played tonight into our next match, tomorrow night, I think that will help us and we can build from that,” Sekinger said.Bison senior outside hitter Lauren Ford was the lone Bison to score double-digit kills with 10. Freshman setter Kayla Ostrom assisted on 28 of her teams 31 kills.The Buckeyes are scheduled to play the winner of No. 13 Kentucky and the Horizon League champions Oakland. The match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum.
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. Schools from across the UK have published their 2016 GCSE results with the Telegraph – use the interactive searchable results tables below to see if your school is featured, and to compare schools across the country.The first table lists 132 selective state schools, while the second table shows the results of the 182 comprehensive schools who have submitted their results to us. Results are not final and may change after re-marks.A-level results 2016: results from 300 state schools Data for these tables has been supplied directly by the schools. Some results were excluded from the list because of incomplete data. A table of independent school results will be published separately. In tables published by the Telegraph, the The Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead, London, came top of the selective state schools, with 100 per cent of pupils gaining 5 or more A*-C grades and over 95 per cent of pupils gaining A* or A.Thomas Telford School, a City Technology College in Shropshire, came top of the comprehensive table, with 98 per cent of pupils gaining 5 A*-C grades including English and maths.NotesThe type of school is indicated by G – Grammar, PS – Partially selective and C -ComprehensiveGender is indicated by B – Boys, G – Girls and M – MixedThe %A*-C reveals the percentage of candidates with 5 or more A*-C grades including English and mathematicsThe %A* to A reveals the percentage of entries graded at this level Figures published yesterday revealed that the percentage of pupils achieving a C grade or above this year saw the sharpest decline since the exams were launched in 1988.The percentage of all students gaining A*-C grades dropped 2.1 percentage points to 66.9 per cent, as more 17-year-olds resat their English and maths qualifications following Government changes to the system.According to the reforms, all students must now achieve a C in GCSE English and maths, or they will be forced to retake the qualification.However, the number of 16-year-olds achieving grades A* to C also fell, by 1.3 percentage points, with experts blaming the focus on the key academic subjects of the EBacc as a possible cause.
The Unconscious Patient (Sense of Smell)Credit:The Leiden Collection, New York Four of Rembrandt’s earliest paintings are to be reunited for the first time in centuries after one was discovered in a cellar, as the Ashmolean Museum announces the hunt is still on for one final missing work.The quartet, four-fifths of the “Five Senses” series, are to go on public display in the Oxford museum, after “Smell” was sensationally rediscovered last year.It will now go on public show alongside Hearing, Touch and Sight for the first time, with as experts say the missing Taste could still be “languishing in someone’s attic” somewhere in the world. The Stone Operation (Sense of Touch)Credit:The Leiden Collection, New York The Three Singers (Sense of Hearing)Credit:The Leiden Collection, New York The paintings were created around 1624-5 when the artist was still a teenager, and depict the five senses – a popular allegorical theme of the day.Each picture shows three figures depicting a sense, with Sight showing a squinting woman trying on a pair of spectacles and Hearing showing three singers.Smell, long thought missing, was discovered lsat years in the basement of a New Jersey home in the United States, offered at auction for just $500-800 and thought to be by a minor 19th century painting by an unknown artist. But eagle-eyed European collectors spotted its potential, sparking a bidding war which raised the price to $870,000.The painting was eventually bought by the the Leiden Collection, New York, and restored, being attributed to Rembrandt not least because his monogram was on the canvas.The panel was unveiled to the public at the TEFAF art fair in Maastricht earlier this year, and is now united with its series at the Ashmolean. An Van Camp, curator of Northern European art at the Ashmolean Museum, said: “These earliest of paintings by Rembrandt are fascinating in what they tell us of the young artist’s abilities and his immaturity.“The paintings show that at the age of just eighteen, Rembrandt already has a genius for representing human character and emotion, and for packing in amazing amounts of detail into the briefest of brushstrokes – skills that would see him become one of the most celebrated artists of all time.”The fifth painting, Taste, remains lost and possibly destroyed.The Ashmolean is now encouraging visitors to “draw, paint, recreate or just describe” what the painting may look like via its social media channels. 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.
Matt LeBlanc has signed a new deal to front the motoring show on his ownCredit:Gus Gregory 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. Matt LeBlanc has signed a brand new Top Gear hosting deal worth around £1.5 million after the BBC lost Great British Bake Off to rival Channel 4.The former Friends star, 49, has agreed to a two-year deal after negotiations with the BBC to front the motoring show on his own. Matt will replace Chris Evans as lead host of the show after he quit following a series of gaffesCredit:Alex Howe This means he is the first star to sign up to a loophole preventing his salary being made public under the Government’s proposed White Paper changesTop Gear series 24 returns to BBC Two next year. LeBlanc’s one-series contract expired in June and according to The Sun, the BBC has now agreed to work around filming of the actor’s US sitcom Man With a Plan.Matt’s role on the show will see him replace main host Chris Evans, 50, who quit in July following criticism from fans. He will carry out the celebrity interviews and be helped out by Eddie Jordan, 68, Sabine Schmitz, 47, and motoring journalists Chris Harris, 41, and Rory Reid, 36.A BBC spokesperson said: “Having proved a big hit with viewers when he co-hosted the most recent series of Top Gear, American iconic actor Matt LeBlanc has agreed a two series deal with the BBC.”Patrick Holland, Channel Editor for BBC Two said: “I am thrilled that Matt is returning to Top Gear. He’s a huge talent whose love of cars is infectious. I can’t wait for the series to return to BBC2 next year.” BBC TV controller Charlotte Moore is believed to have agreed the deal, which will see most of Mr LeBlanc’s salary paid through the broadcaster’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide.
She said: “My son has disappeared – so somebody please, if anyone knows anything, get in touch, get in touch with Suffolk Police.She asked Suffolk residents to check their gardens and said her son may have decided to “have a sleep” before making his way home. She said: “Check your gardens, check your own properties please, but leave the proper searching to the police and people who know what they are doing.”SAC McKeague was described as fit and healthy and he had spent the night drinking with RAF comrades. He regularly walked home on his own after a night out drinking and police said he would not have considered the nine mile trek a significant distance.His mother said: “The boys that were with him are not responsible for Corrie. Corrie does the same thing every time he goes out. Once he goes out he is an absolute creature of habit. He will leave absolutely on his own, that’s not unusual.”He will go and get food and if he has to lay down and have a sleep before he goes home then he will. It’s looking more and more suspicious as time goes on that they’re not actually finding himmother Nicola Urquhart An image from CCTV footage of Corrie McKeague in Bury St EdmundsCredit:EPA/SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY Police say searches have now been extended for Corrie McKeague, who was last seen in Bury St Edmunds early on September 24Credit:EPA/SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY The mother of an RAF gunner missing for more than a week after disappearing on a night out drinking has pleaded for local people to check their gardens and properties for him.Senior aircraftman Corrie McKeague of II Sqn RAF Regiment was last seen in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and is believed to have set out to walk nine miles back to his base.Search teams have since been retracing his possible route back to RAF Honington after he was last seen at around 3am on September 24. Bury St Edmunds is about 30 miles from RAF Marham, where two men tried to kidnap a serviceman in July Electronic records from the lorry show it did not pick up anything heavy enough to be a person.SAC McKeague is described as white, 5ft 10ins, of medium build, with short light brown hair. He is believed to have been wearing a pink Ralph Lauren polo shirt and brown suede Timberland boots when he went missing. Brown suede Timberland boots that Corrie McKeague was believed to have been wearing when he vanishedCredit: Suffolk Police Detectives and commanders say they fear he had an accident or was hit by a car along the way. There is no sign of foul play or any link to the attempted kidnap of an airman from RAF Marham in July, they said.His family said the 23-year-old who is originally from Dunfermline in Fife usually kept in close contact and had appeared happy in his last phone call with his brother.Mr McKeague’s mother Nicola Urquhart, 47, a police officer with Police Scotland made an impassioned plea for information on Monday A pink Ralph Lauren shirt that Corrie McKeague was believed to have been wearing when he disappearedCredit:Suffolk Police “Nothing in his behaviour was even remotely unusual and the boys that he was with would not have been able to stop him from doing that. Because that’s what he does.”Detectives have also seized a commercial bin lorry after they traced SAC McKeague’s mobile phone to its collection route during the early hours of September 24.They believe the phone may have been discarded and ended up in the lorry on its route from Bury St Edmunds to Barton Hills. The vehicle has been seized, but the Nokia phone has not yet been found. Police outside RAF Marham in Norfolk, after a serviceman was threatened with a knife near to the base in JulyCredit:Chris Radburn/PA 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.
Workman’s obstruction of the legal process had led to “horrendous delays” and caused “intense emotional strain” to Ben and Nicholas, he added.And his behaviour had deepened the trauma already caused by their mother’s murder.But Miss McQuail urged the Appeal Court to give Workman a fair chance to defend himself against his sons’ claim.Denying that a “profit motive” lay behind the murder, she said Workman was “in temper” when he killed his wife at the climax of a “bitter dispute”.He and his victim had been married for 35 years before their split, the court heard.During his trial, Workman insisted he acted in self-defence after his wife came at him with a kitchen knife and that she was fatally injured during the struggle.However, jurors disbelieved him and his conviction challenge was turned down by the Criminal Appeal Court in 2014.At his murder trial the court heard poignant extracts from Susan Workman’s diary – with the last entry penned just instants before the killing.The log – titled “Sue’s Memories” – recorded how her ex stormed into the house to retrieve his “clothes and jumpers”.Workman briefly stroked the family dog as he was about to leave, the diary notes, but then launched a torrent of screaming expletives at Mrs Workman.Her last unfinished line read simply, “standing, staring at me acro…”.After Workman’s trial, Ben and Nicholas put their names to a family statement welcoming “this man”s conviction.””Sue did not deserve to have her life ended this way for greed and money,” they said.Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice Sharp and Lady Justice Thirlwall have now reserved their decision on Workman’s appeal. The £700,000 farm in Edgeworth, Bolton, where multi-millionaire Ian Workman killed his wife Susan in 2011Credit: Champion News 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. Two sons of a multi-millionaire killer who butchered his wife in the midst of their bitter divorce are now suing him for £1.5 million.In a “unique and troubling” case, Ben and Nicholas Workman claim their murderer father, Ian Workman, 63, would have had to hand over half his fortune to their mother, Susan, had he not killed her.If he is allowed to keep the cash, the brothers’ lawyers argue, he will have “profited” from murdering her with a single stab wound to the heart.But Workman, who is serving a life sentence, is defending himself from his prison cell, insisting he did not kill his wife for the money.He is also said to have given away almost his entire fortune to his eldest son, Grant, 28, who the court heard is standing by him.The car dealer, said to have been worth about £3.3 million, killed his wife following a frenzied row at the family home in Edgworth, near Bolton.He “stabbed her through the heart with a large kitchen knife” in April 2011, his sons’ QC, Stephen Killalea, told London’s Civil Appeal Court.Workman snapped as the estranged couple rowed over the financial fallout from their divorce, he added.Aged 55 when she died, Mrs Workman had been claiming a divorce payout of around £1.5 million from her ex.But the cash stayed in his coffers after he was convicted of her murder at Preston Crown Court in December 2011.Workman says he has been treated “unfairly and oppressively” by Ben, 27, and Nicholas, 23, but they are determined he should not profit from their mother’s murder. Sue did not deserve to have her life ended this way for greed and moneyFamily statement Backing their claim is Susan Workman’s sister, Carol Forrester, who is representing her murdered sibling’s estate.Workman watched the case via live video link from jail as his lawyers insisted he had been given no fair chance to defend himself.And his barrister, Katherine McQuail, said his oldest son, Grant, 28, has “stuck by” his father.Nicholas and Ben’s legal team argue their father “would have been ordered to pay his wife some £1.5 million had the financial proceedings gone ahead”.They are now claiming every penny Workman would have had to shell out to their mother had she lived – plus legal costs of around £500,000.The brothers’ case reached the Appeal Court as Workman challenged a judgment for £1,503,579 that was entered against him in 2013.As part of an asset-freezing injunction, Workman had been ordered to disclose his assets worldwide.But Mr Killalea said he made “no attempt at all” to comply with the order and, as a result, was barred from defending his sons’ claim.The QC also claimed Workman had “voluntarily dissipated virtually all his assets” to Grant.
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. Christopher Halliwell was found guilty of murdering Becky Godden (picured) Credit:PA / Wiltshire Police Ahead of his trial for the murder of Miss Godden, Halliwell hinted he would admit to her killing if he were not pursued for other crimes.He told police: “I don’t want to keep coming back every couple of years on different charges.”He added: “If I can clear this up in the next few hours, will everything else be forgotten?”Miss O’Callaghan’s mother, Elaine Pickford, has voiced corncerns that there may have been other murders.Other unsolved cases in areas nearby include Melanie Hall, who disappeared aged 25 in 1996 after leaving a nightclub in Bath; Sally Ann John, a 24-year-old prostitute who went missing from Swindon’s red light district in 1995, and Thi Hai Nguyen a Vietnamese immigrant went missing in Swindon in 2005. Specialist police officers have begun excavation work at the former home of double murderer Christopher Halliwell, it is understood.The 53-year-old taxi driver, of Swindon, Wiltshire, murdered Becky Godden, 20, in January 2003 and Sian O’Callaghan, 22, in March 2011.He was handed a rare full life sentence – meaning he will never be released – at Bristol Crown Court last year after being convicted of Miss Godden’s murder.Following his sentence, police said they were working with other forces and the National Crime Agency to identify potential further victims of Halliwell. Detective Chief Inspector Jeremy Carter, who is leading the investigation, said: “Searches are being conducted in the gardens and garages of two properties in Broad Street over this coming week.”Whilst we do not have plans, at this stage, to search inside the properties there will be some disruption to the occupants.”I would like to make it clear that those living at the addresses have no involvement in the investigation and we thank them for their understanding and patience.”Although we are unable to comment on the nature of our inquiries, we can say that we acting on intelligence received.”Superintendent Charlie Armstrong added: “We understand that this activity may cause concern for the local community and residents can expect to see a police cordon in place within the alleyways in Broad Street for the next five days.”This should not impact upon other local residents. Officers will continue to patrol the vicinity and will be available for anyone who has any concerns relating to the searches.”Halliwell abducted office administrator Miss O’Callaghan as she walked home following a night-out in Swindon and dumped her body in Uffington, Oxfordshire.He then confessed to killing another woman, a prostitute he had picked up from Swindon, had sex with and strangled in January 2003.The father-of-three led police to a field in Eastleach, Gloucestershire, where Miss Godden’s remains were discovered. Detective Superintendent Sean Memory said after Halliwell was found guilty that he was “open-minded” about the possibility of other victims.”I would appeal to Christopher Halliwell, actually, if he wants to speak I’m willing to speak with him,” he said.”He has clearly demonstrated he is very forensically aware. I can’t link him directly to any offences however there is an eight-year gap between the two murders and I have no evidence to suggest Becky was actually the first one.”Wiltshire Police started excavation work based on new information within the gardens of two properties in Swindon town centre on Monday. Work at the addresses in Broad Street is expected to last for five days.
#maryberry #bolognese ragu ??What’s that…. white wine…..double cream herbs 🙈 that’s breaking every Italian kitchen rule @CookCarluccio 😫 pic.twitter.com/2Q6AfNboBW— Tracey J Cottrell (@deli_tracey) March 7, 2017 Many tweeted to complain this recipe was unusual at best and not what they expected from the culinary queen.One said on Twitter: “Just watched a cooking programme where Mary Berry put white wine in Bolognese. Turned it off. #shudders.” @alexpreston101 @TelegraphNews Mary Berry is channeling Elizabeth David. 1958 recipe, adds cream, white wine, chicken livers, and bacon.— Sara Browne (@sarabrowne55) March 7, 2017 I love Mary Berry, but white wine in a bolognese sauce? No. It has to be red.— Saffron Buns (@faerynuff) March 6, 2017 Mary Berry’s making a bolognese with “her own special twist”. It’s gin, isn’t it?— Dave Turner (@mrdaveturner) March 6, 2017 White wine and cream in a well-used recipe from book of Italian cooking. Very good it is, too! #MaryBerry #spagbol pic.twitter.com/K10QzUO4v4— Maths Tutor (@TheMathsClass) March 7, 2017 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. Many old-fashioned Italian cook books recommend adding milk or cream and white wine to a ragu sauce.Marcella Hazan, the late Italian-born chef who revolutionised how Americans cook Italian food, recommended using dairy and white wine in her recipe. She added: “Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well”.In fact, bolognese – or tagliatelle al ragu – is so important to Italy that the region’s Chamber of Commerce asked the Italian Academy of Cooking to come up with an official recipe in 1982. The result was a simple sauce, which only contained beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, white wine and milk.This means the official Italian way to make bolognese is to add white wine and milk (or cream if you’re decadent like Mary Berry). “Dear Mary Berry, this is NOT ragu Bolognese. It’s a nice tomato sauce though,” added another.In response to the cream addition, one viewer said: “Shocked and appalled about Mary Berry adding double cream to her bolognese.”However, others pointed out that her recipe is not unusual. Mary Berry’s “unusual” take on a slow-cooked ragu sauce left some viewers of her new cookery show “shocked and appalled”.While the closest most get to adding dairy to their spag bol is softening onions in butter, and it is thought red wine brings out the flavour of the beef, Mary Berry shocked by sloshing white wine and cream into her recipe.She said during her BBC 2 show Mary Berry Everyday to add wine, “white or red, whatever you’ve got to hand – although I really prefer to add white.” Hazan, often cited as the last word on simple, delicious Italian cookery, wrote in her recipe for bolognese: “Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely”.
Hate crime has no place in London, Britain or anywhere else. The perpetrators of Friday’s attack in Croydon will be brought to justice. pic.twitter.com/qxNa0KiCSQ— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) April 2, 2017 “He has sustained serious head and facial injuries as a result of this attack, which included repeated blows to the head by a large group of attackers.”Chief Supt Jeff Boothe, Croydon’s borough commander, called it a “savage attack” and said it was only the intervention of passers-by and the arrival of police that stopped it being worse.He said: “A number of bystanders and eyewitnesses tried to intervene and say to the attackers that enough is enough.”By all accounts they didn’t actually stop until the sound of police sirens were heard in the background.”The Refugee Council said it was “disgusted” by the assault.Dr Lisa Doyle, its director of advocacy, said: “We hope the perpetrators of this appalling attack are swiftly brought to justice and we wish the victim a full and speedy recovery.”Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also condemned the attack: 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. Three 20-year-old men, a 20-year-old woman and a man and woman both aged 24 were arrested at addresses in Croydon late on Saturday on suspicion of attempted murder and violent disorder. Six people have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder over a “savage” attack that left a teenage asylum seeker with a fractured skull and a blood clot on the brain.Four men and two women in their 20s are being held at a south London police station for questioning, Scotland Yard said.Neighbours claimed a group of up to 20 people watched on as the young man was punched and kicked.Government minister Gavin Barwell, an MP for Croydon, condemned the “appalling” attack, whichpolice are treating as a suspected hate crime. Mr Boothe said it was “only going to be a matter of time” before all the attackers were arrested. Police believe he was approached by about eight suspects shortly before the attack in Shrublands Avenue at 11.40pm on Friday.Det Sgt Kris Blamires from Croydon CID said: “It is understood that the suspects asked the victim where he was from and when they established that he was an asylum seeker they chased him and launched a brutal attack. When they established that he was an asylum seeker they chased him and launched a brutal attackDet Sgt Kris Blamires The attack happened outside The Goat pub in Croydon, south LondonHousing minister Mr Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, said: “I think most people in Croydon will be as appalled as I am that what appears to have happened is a young man who came to this country seeking sanctuary has apparently been targeted because of his ethnic background.”It’s an appalling crime and I hope the people responsible are caught quickly and receive the full force of British justice.”Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, suggested the Conservatives had failed to get to grips with hate crime.She said: “Sadly this is not an isolated incident but part of a sustained increase in hate crimes that this Tory Government is yet to offer any effective response to.” The 17-year-old victim, a Kurdish Iranian, was waiting at a bus stop with two friends outside The Goat pub in Croydon, south-east London, when a group approached them.After discovering he was an asylum seeker they chased him and launched a vicious assault, repeatedly kicking him on the floor and aiming blows to his head.The teenager suffered serious head and facial injuries, including a fractured skull and a blood clot on his brain, and remains in hospital in a serious but stable condition.His two friends escaped with minor injuries, Scotland Yard said, as officers were in the process of contacting the teenager’s next of kin. Detectives are investigating whether some of those involved had been drinking in the Goat, Mr Boothe said.The “close-knit community” has been left shocked by the ferocity of the attack, he added, and extra officers have been out and about to reassure people.He said: “This is not usual for the area, it is out of the norm. This is not Croydon, Croydon is a very diverse community – they celebrate their diversity.”He added: “Hate crime is something which we understand can be very, very divisive. Croydon is culturally diverse and we need to continue to celebrate that.”We are appealing to all decent people from whatever background they come from to help us identify the individuals that are involved in this isolated attack.”
An Oxford professor has resigned from his role over claims one of the university’s wealthy donors is a supporter of Donald Trump.Swedish academic Bo Rothstein, who was Professor of Government and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, alleged the school’s namesake had made a substantial donation to the Trump campaign.USSR-born Sir Leonard Blavatnik, who is Britain’s richest man, provided £75m of financial backing to Oxford University to build the school.Professor Rothstein said in a resignation letter: “As I see it, Donald Trump’s policies are also antithetical to the goal of the Blavatnik School of Government, which aims to improve the quality of government and public policymaking worldwide, so that citizens can enjoy more secure and more fulfilled lives.” 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. A spokesman for Mr Blavatnik said: “Neither Mr. Blavatnik nor his company, Access Industries, have ever donated to President Trump or his campaign. “Access Industries made a donation to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a joint Congressional committee that has been responsible for organizing the inauguration ceremonies of every U.S. president since 1901 and which helps to organize public and private events during the week leading up to the Inauguration. Sir Leonard Blavatnik funded a new school of government in OxfordCredit: Valery Levitin/Kommersant The Blavatnik School building in OxfordCredit:Stephen Sykes /Alamy Mr Blavatnik was named Britain’s richest man in 2015 and according to this year’s Sunday Times rich list, his £15.9bn fortune puts him second only to the joint wealth of brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja.The industrialist built his wealth through his company Access Industries and now counts Warner Music Group as part of his empire.His donation to Oxford University was criticised at the time as a sign of the university “selling its reputation and prestige to Putin’s associates” in a letter to the Guardian coordinated by Ilya Zaslavskiy, an employee of a Russian oil company and Oxford graduate who ran Moscow’s Oxford alumni association. The university said it was “unclear” why Prof. Rothstein would resign over any political donations made by Sir Leonard, given he had made no attempt to influence the school’s academic agenda. “The types of events that the Presidential Inaugural Committee plans and supports include public concerts, fireworks, lunches, dinners, the inauguration ceremony, and the inaugural parade.”A spokesman for Oxford University said: “Professor Rothstein is a distinguished researcher and scholar in the field of Government, and the School is sorry to have received his resignation. However, we are unclear why he has resigned over political donations made by Sir Leonard Blavatnik, which are completely unconnected to the Blavatnik School of Government.”As an American citizen, Sir Leonard is entitled to make donations and give support to whichever politicians he chooses. The School would never try to influence the political preferences of its donors or to comment upon them. The School’s mission is to promote good government, not any particular programme for governing.”Conversely, Sir Leonard has never attempted to influence the School’s academic agenda, or who we hire or with whom we work.” The letter seen by the Guardian added: “Mr Blavatnik’s decision to support Donald Trump makes it impossible for me to continue at the Blavatnik School of Government.”But a spokesman for Mr Blavatnik said neither he nor his company Access Industries had never donated to President Trump or his campaign.Mr Blavatnik has made donations to politicians from both US parties according to records, from former Vice President Joe Biden to Republican senator Ben Sasse. The Blavatnik School of Government in OxfordCredit:Iwan Baan
Spiralling NHS negligence bills are set to double in less than five years, and could get even worse amid lengthening hospital waiting times, watchdogs have warned.The National Audit Office (NAO) said soaring numbers of claims, especially the most costly ones caused by maternity blunders, are fuelling record compensation spending.Its report shows the number of claims has doubled in a decade, and has now reached more than 10,000 cases a year. Over the same period, legal costs have soared, amid the rise in “no-win no-fee” agreements.The figures show that claimants legal costs have risen by 533 per cent, outstripping a 316 per cent rise in damages.The watchdog also criticised the length of time spent disputing cases, adding to costs. It now takes 426 days for the average claim to be settled, the report says – a rise from 300 days six years ago, with every extra day adding £40 to costs.It also highlighted a sharp rise in spending on maternity blunders which left babies brain-damaged – with a 350 per cent rise in damages over the last decade.The NAO said lengthening NHS waiting times could increase the risks of future claims, from patients whose diagnosis or treatment is delayed. Waiting lists are now the highest they have been for a decade, with a 76 per cent rise in the numbers waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment over the last two years. 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. Meg Hillier said: “The costs of clinical negligence claims are spiralling at a time of immense financial pressures on our National Health Service, taking scarce resources away from frontline services and patients.” “The Department of Health and Ministry of Justice have been too slow to work together to turn the tide, with actions to save £90 million a year by 2020-21 a drop in the ocean in the face of forecast costs of £3.2 billion a year by 2021. We need Government to take a good hard look at the financial and personal costs of clinical negligence.” The Government has drawn up plans which attempt to limit NHS legal costs, including fixed legal costs for cases worth £25,000. But the NAO said the proposals would only save £90m, which the chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, described as a “drop in the ocean” compared with the £3.2bn annual bill forecast for 2021. Jeremy Hunt has set out plans which aim to dramatically reduce the number of tragedies where babies die or are harmed for life Credit:Eddie Mulholland
The Queen has expressed concern about a shake up in her security detail that means her protection officers are regularly rotated, it has been claimed.Scotland Yard has been gradually implementing a new policy that provides protection to the royal family on a pool basis, meaning back-up officers are sometimes assigned to government ministers and sometimes to royalty.A senior source told the Evening Standard: “Her Majesty is not the only one who has expressed concerns.“A number of senior officers are not happy either. Personal protection is all about building a relationship with the principal. How on earth is that supposed to happen if the officers are rotated every five minutes with new faces?”Ken Wharfe, who was a personal protection officer for Diana, Princess of Wales, said: “The security will be less effective.“Understanding the behaviours of the person you are charged with protecting is crucial. Understanding the machinations of the royal household is very important too. “If you are from a pool, one minute looking after a Cabinet minister and the next a member of the royal family, how are you able to build up that rapport with the principal? It doesn’t make sense. No wonder Her Majesty has privately expressed her disquiet.” The Queen is said to have expressed concerns following a shake up of royal securityCredit:Ian Jones The Royalty and Specialist Protection unit was formed in 2015, with the merger of squads that protect politicians, diplomats and the royal family.The bigger team of pooled officers was said to have been introduced to reduce the huge overtime bills being racked up by royalty officers.Mark Rowley, a Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, said at the time: “We’re constantly looking for ways to save money that don’t impact on the quality of protection.”Last November, Scotland Yard announced it was recruiting 120 armed officers to protect the increasing number of key individuals the group was tasked to protect.The advert said recruits would be tasked with providing armed close protection to members of the Royal Family, senior government ministers, and visiting foreign dignitaries.A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “We never comment on anonymously sourced reports claiming to represent The Queen’s private views. Security is a matter for the police.”A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “The process for appointing personal protection officers has not changed. Equally their roles and responsibilities remain unaltered. We do not recognise the commentary from the anonymous source.” 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.