Inside the world’s weirdest homes – from the 16-year-old billionaire who has a zoo with 500 animals to man who lives inside a sandcastle

His unique house is one of six featured in a new documentary, The World's Weirdest Homes.

The Channel 4 show sees architect and presenter Charlie Luxton travel to far-flung destinations such as Arizona in the US, Dubai and Rio de Janiero to meet people who have chosen to live somewhere unusual.

From the entrepreneur who lives on a version of Noah's Ark – complete with wooden beasts – to the scientists living on an exact replica of Mars, Sun Online takes a look at some of the most bonkers places people call home.

The billionaire's zoo with a celeb following

Name: The Private Zoo

Location: Dubai

Who lives there? Rashed Belhasa

The son of billionaire UAE construction tycoon, Saif Ahmed Belhasa, Rashed is used to flaunting his luxurious lifestyle online, posting several videos from the room he has just to house his growing trainer collection.

But nothing has drawn attention as much as his impressive private zoo in the grounds of his dad's opulently-decorated mega mansion.

Rashed's collection of living beasts includes lions, tigers, panthers, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes and bears, all with pets ostentatiously named after his favourite brands – Versace, Armani and Dior.


The zoo has attracted a number of celebrities, from singer Mariah Carey to Cristiano Ronaldo, Jackie Chan and Floyd Mayweather.

Rashed says the younger animals get to come inside for snuggles, and claims he is the only 16 year old in the world with his own zoo.

However, he has come under fire from people who have branded the zoo cruel, but says his father inspired him to help animals after he started taking in neglected creatures from other private zoos.

"We don't make profit from it," says Rashed. "When I went to Kenya I saw lions dying because they only ate once a month. Here they eat every single day."

Life on Mars?

Name: Mars Desert Research Station

Location: Utah

Who lives there? A group of eight scientists

With plans to eventually form a colony on Mars – and Elon Musk saying he wants to put people on the red planet by 2024, it seems important that humans are well prepared.

That's where the Mars Desert Research Station comes in. Built in the early noughties, it is a replica space station where scientists live exactly as if it were Mars, 24/7.

The base is located in the remote desert of Utah near the small town of Hanksville.

The area looks very like Mars due to the barren red rock, mountains and sand, as well as similar rock types to those found on the Red Planet.

The tiny base, where eight scientists live on a rotating basis, is smaller than an average London one-bed flat and features bunk beds in tiny closet-style rooms.

They have just one toilet to share, and are only able to eat freeze-dried food as if they are in Space.

"People tell us that we are running around playing dress-up in a spacesuit, but it's not like that at all," says Dr Shannon Rupert, who heads up the project.

The ark built to 'save humanity from sin'

Name: Noah's Ark

Location: The Netherlands

Who lives there? Dutch entrepreneur Aad Peters

In 2005, Johan Huibers, a Dutch Christian fundamentalist, decided to build a replica of Noah's Ark as he wanted to save humanity from sin after having a vision.

Painstakingly crafted, the replica is 70 metres long, 9.5 metres wide, 13 metres high and made of steel, pine and cedar.

In 2010, Huibers sold the ark for £900,000 to Aad Peters, an entrepreneur who wanted to sail the vessel around Northern Europe with live animals on board including camels and elephants – two-by-two of course.

However, Aad was forced to concede three months later that unlike in the Biblical Story, an ark is not a suitable home for animals, so he took them off board.

"There's not a lot of space…it's like camping on sea," says Aad. "If the wind blows it and you're lying shivering under five blankets you wonder 'am I stupid?' but it is what it is. If you choose to do something you have to do it."

Last year, he collided with a few other boats during a storm, and it's also caught fire.

At present, it is currently anchored by a car park and is a museum filled with wooden animals, but Aad says he plans to sail the high seas once it is repaired.

The 'King of the Castle' who wees in the sea

Name: Sandcastle House

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Who lives there? Marcio Mizael Matolias

Sea views are desired by many of us – and Rio de Janeiro resident Marcio Mizael Matolia has found a nifty way to get a prime spot without the hefty price tag.

For the past 22 years, the self-styled "King of the Castle", who is adorned with a plastic crown, has lived inside his sandcastle.

He says the seat outside is his "pulpit", where he sits for people to come and "pay respect" to him and donate money to him to help him live in his strange structure.

The impressive creation, in an exclusive neighbourhood surrounded by luxury flats worth millions, has 40 turrets, which he made by hand using sand, driftwood and water.

However, though it looks great from the outside, Marcio's living space is a six metre square room held up by a wooden frame.

"I dug a hole, then put some wood underneath so it didn't sink," says Marcio. "It's a real work of architecture and engineering."

Unsurprisingly, there are some setbacks with this set up. He doesn't have amenities such as a toilet so he uses public loos when he needs a poo and wees in the sea.

In the rainy season his castle washes away, meaning it needs constant repairs. It takes between six and eight hours to make a couple of towers, so he can find this incredibly frustrating.

An off-grid floating farm with whales as neighbours

Name: Freedom Cove

Location: British Columbia, Canada

Who lives there? Wayne Adams and Catherine King

The pair have lived on the secluded farm, which floats on the ocean and weighs 500 tonnes – the same as a ship – for 26 years.

The home, which is anchored to shore using lines like a giant spider's web, boasts huge areas of garden, a multi-coloured house, art gallery, dance floor and even a lighthouse.

It's here that Catherine grows fruit and vegetables while Wayne, who built all of Freedom Cove himself, creates additions to their home in his workshop. The pair also fish from a hole in the floor.

However, the house has regularly suffered from severe storm damage as it's built in an area known for high winds.

The pair say the roof has blown off several times, and various sections of it have been completely destroyed at times.

The 104ft tall treehouse with 304 windows

Name: Falcon's Nest

Location: Prescott, Arizona

Who lives there? Tarot readers Ernst and Srishti

Ernst and Srishti often ran around the countryside near their home in Arizona, dreaming of owning the very peculiar building they'd go past.

Falcon's Nest towers at over 104ft high and with 10 floors, is the tallest single-family home on the planet. It was out of the couple's price range at £1.4million ($1.8million) – but an accident last year changed everything.


The sporty pair were out on one of their regular runs when they were run over by a pick-up truck.

Their insurance payout meant they would be in a position to buy it and they jumped at the chance.

With stunning views over Arizona, the main living area has 2,400 square feet of space all the way up on the sixth floor.

However, it takes a lot of maintenance: two days to clean all 304 windows using a special brush as they are so high up, and several people in the town complained about the building, calling it an eyesore.

And the couple also admit their unusual abode attracts a lot of attention, with people pulling up outside in the cars to take photos on a regular basis.

"Our home is a tourist attraction," they tell Charlie Luxton.

That's certainly something you can say for all these other unusual buildings too.

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Uber offers all NHS staff in England two free rides this Christmas

Uber offers all NHS staff in England two free rides to and from work this Christmas

  • NHS workers can claim rides on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day 
  • Uber says it’s their way of helping the 350,000 NHS staff working the holidays 
  • Staff have to register for the free ride codes by using their work email address 

Employees of the NHS are being given free Uber trips to and from work over the Christmas period.

Workers in England can claim two £10 codes when they register with the app using their official email address.

The offer is open to doctors, nurses and any other staff who have the service in their area.

NHS workers in England will be able to get free rides with Uber to take them to and from work this Christmas 


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Uber says the giveaway is designed to help people spend more time with their families instead of using up time getting to and from work, Mirror Online reports.

How can YOU claim your free Uber rides?

If you work for the NHS, simply click here

Then enter your NHS email address into the box.

You’ll then be sent an email with your code.

Open the Uber app on your phone, select ‘Payment’ on the menu then tap ‘Add Promo’ and enter your code.

Your code should arrive by December 21. 

But if you register after that date, you will receive your code on Christmas Eve.

Be sure to claim your two rides between 00.01am on December 24 and 11.59pm on December 26.

Staff can register at www.uber.com/nhs where they can then enter their email address by 9am on December 24. Codes can be redeemed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 

While many people spend December 25 relaxing with loved ones, 350,000 NHS staff will be working.

That includes 97,000 nurses, 176,000 care workers, 53,000 nursing assistants, 12,000 midwives and 12,000 ambulance drivers.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s General Manager for Northern and Eastern Europe said: ‘NHS staff will have enough to worry about this Christmas, so we’d like to at least try to take care of their travel. 

‘During a time when it isn’t always easy to get from A to B, we hope that this offer will help them get home to their families sooner.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Everyone wants to be home with their families for Christmas Day but so many of our selfless NHS staff give up their holidays to care for those who need it most. 

‘It’s great that Uber have agreed to step in and offer a free ride home this Christmas and I hope this makes life a little easier for our dedicated NHS workers.’

The company says that it wants to help NHS workers spend more time with their families this festive period 

 

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Woman punches herself in face ‘to frame husband for domestic violence’

A man is calling on the Australian government to deport his wife after she was filmed framing him for domestic violence.

Faisal, from Sydney, Australia, had only been married to Moroccan wife Asmae for eight months when he became suspicious she had used him to get into the country.

The pair met on a dating site but Faisal worried his wife was not in love with him.

He consulted a lawyer and visa expert for advice, but his new wife found the emails and took action.

Faisal told 9 News’ A Current Affair that he arrived home from work and found his apartment trashed.

His wife stormed out and hours later he was arrested for assault.



CCTV was eventually found of his wife, getting into a lift at the apartment block and punching herself twice in the face.

Faisal said: "I didn’t think she would go to that extent and go to the police after everything I did for her, and forget everything and just ruin my life.

"I am the victim now. I got used and abused over and over again emotionally, mentally, financially — you name it. I’m the victim. She did that so now it’s her turn to face the consequences."

Asmae has now fled Sydney and is living somewhere in Australia.

Faisal is calling on the government to send his estranged wife back to Morocco.

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Howeowners' huge 52ft Christmas tree lights up entire neighbourhood 40 years after it was planted as 6ft sapling in front garden

Avril Rowlands and her husband Christopher stuck a 6ft fir in their front garden after enjoying their first Christmas at their new home in 1978.

Now the tree towers above their four-bedroom detached house and the couple have to hire a cherry picker to decorate it using more than 1,000 lights.

And on Sunday, the couple celebrated the monster fir's 40th anniversary when they switched on the lights.

It now illuminates the entire street where the couple live in Inkberrow, Worcs.

Retired TV writer Avril, 73, said: "The switch-on event has become an absolute institution for the village and we have hundreds of people see the tree.



"We've even had tourists coming from as far as China to have their pictures taken by the tree.

"It is amazing to think that the tree started as a 6ft tall sapling which we bought for just £6.

"I remember after that first Christmas thinking to myself that I didn't want to just throw the tree out so I planted it in the front garden.

"It took straight away and every year it's just grown taller and taller.


"It now takes 1,100 to light the tree, I don't look at the electricity bill until after Christmas."

The couple moved to the quiet village in the summer of 1978 after selling their home in London.

And their annual switch-on event has become a local institution which raises thousands of pounds for charity.

Retired BBC editor Christopher, 74, said: "A lot of people in the village say that it's the start of their Christmas.

"We usually raise about £1,000 a year for charity, a different one each year – this year all the money is going to the Midlands Air Ambulance.

"Over the last 14 years we've raised over £10,000 for charity.

"We're delighted the tree has spread so much happiness and raised so much money.

"We expect it'll be for many years to come."

Inkberrow is one of a handful of villages in the country which doesn't have any street lights and the tree can be seen from a mile away at night when it is lit up.

A spokesman for the Forestry Commission said: "This is a remarkable tree which has obviously been taken care of.

"Pine trees can grow to huge heights so time will only tell if this one grows any larger."



 

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Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton's 'tit-for-tat war' could 'bring the monarchy to its knees'

The duchesses have found themselves at the centre of a rift storm as rumours circulate about the pair falling out at least a year ago.

It comes as pregnant Meghan and Prince Harry, 34, revealed they would be leaving the home they currently share with the Cambridges at Kensington Palace.

The royal source told the Sun Online: “Meghan would be very unwise to get involved in a tit for tat war with Kate or anyone else.

"That is what Charles and Diana did through third parties and it brought the monarchy to its knees.

“A dignified silence is the best course. I'm sure there are tensions between Kate and Meghan but I also think they will work them out."


It comes amid claims the Duchess of Sussex is unpopular with palace staff, with some branding her "dictatorial" and say she emails them instructions as early as 5am.

Household staff were reportedly left astounded when she demanded air fresheners to fix the "musty" smell at St George's Chapel before her wedding, but Buckingham Palace officials said no.

And recently her assistant of just six months, Melissa Toubati, who played a "pivotal role in the success of the Royal Wedding", quit the job after "putting up with a lot".

Meghan and Kate are said to have fallen out as early as last Christmas when the former Suits star apparently suggested she did not feel entirely welcome with all members of the Royal Family.


Among the rumours, none of which have been confirmed, include Meghan causing Kate Middleton to cry after a bridesmaid fitting for her daughter Charlotte.

Prince Harry, 34, has also allegedly been throwing his weight around, angered that neither his brother, Prince William, or courtiers have been “rolling out the red carpet” for his bride.

Prince Charles is said to have tried to smooth things over with an invite to Anmer Hall – William and Kate’s country home – but it backfired and the couples reportedly had a “ghastly row”.

Royal experts have advised that Meghan should seek advice from the Queen to navigate through these difficult times, as Prince Harry’s aunt, Sophie Wessex, did.

Experts told The Sunday Times that Sophie, 52, also had a tricky start as she joined the royal family, and sought help from the Queen to weather the storm.

The Duchess of Sussex, 37, reportedly avoids reading about her apparent rift with Kate because "she believes in karma", a source has claimed.

Harry and Meghan are have decided to set up their home in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The Queen has given them Frogmore Cottage, which is having a multi-million pound refit paid for by the taxpayer.

It will provide ten bedrooms and a nursery for their baby, due in April. The couple are expected to move in next year.



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Four men charged after Tottenham fan 'threw banana skin at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang' in Arsenal match

The Arsenal star, 29, struck twice as the Gunners came from behind to win 4-2 in the explosive clash against Mauricio Pochettino's side.

However images from the game show that the striker had a banana skin thrown at him after scoring.

A Metropolitan Police statement today confirmed the arrests.

It read: "Four men have been charged following the Arsenal vs Tottenham football match at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, 2 December.

"Paul Wright, 41 of Talbot Place, Bexley was charged with a public order offence and has been bailed to attend Highbury Corner Court on Monday, 31 December.

"Averof Panteli, 57 of Borrowdale Drive, Norwich; Charlie Watts, 26  of Goldring Court, St Albans and Jason Gannon, 36 of Gargery Close, Gravesend, Kent were charged with throwing a missile onto a football pitch.

"These charges relate to three separate incidents during the match. All three were bailed to attend the same court on Tuesday, 18 December. Enquiries continue.

"A total of six arrests were made in relation the match – four were dealt with as above; two other men were released with no further action."

As Aubameyang celebrated netting his first goal from the spot in front of the Spurs fans, the banana skin was launched in his direction.

It is not known if the incident was connected to racism.

But a Spurs spokesman said: “Behaviour such as this is completely unacceptable and the supporter in question will be issued with a ban.”

Two Gunners fans were also arrested for letting off smoke canisters during the match.

And both clubs face an FA probe after their players and staff were involved mass BUST-UP on the touchline following Eric Dier’s equaliser on the half-hour mark.

Harry Kane gave the visitors the lead in the first half before the Gabon striker's second.

That was followed by two goals in three second-half minutes from Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torreira earned Arsenal the points.


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Dog Sully Guarding George HW Bush’s Casket Is A Sad Reminder Of Death Impacting Pets

George HW Bush’s dog Sully offers proof that pets also mourn the death of humans, as the canine stands watch over the former president’s casket.

A picture of Sully the dog asleep in front of George H.W. Bush’s casket has not only evoked tears, but also offered a reminder of how death impacts pets. Sully came to the former president shortly after the former president lost his life partner and devoted wife, Barbara Bush.

The much-loved canine is a service dog that was named after another true American hero, the former airline pilot, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III. Back in 2009, Sullenberger made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, making worldwide headlines. That landing saved all 155 lives onboard that aircraft.

As much as Sully became part of the Bush family since joining George H.W. Bush at home, the family believes this highly-trained service dog is not done yet with his mission in life. For that reason, the dog will return to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. At Walter Reed, Sully will work with other veterans.

Seats on Air Force One were removed today so that George H.W. Bush’s casket could ride in the president’s cabin on the trip this morning to Washington, D.C. Sully will accompany the casket of his late owner on this trip.

Former president George W. Bush posted a picture of Sully sleeping near his father’s coffin along with a message of future plans for the dog. You can see this in the post below.

View this post on Instagram

As much as our family is going to miss this dog, we’re comforted to know he’ll bring the same joy to his new home, Walter Reed, that he brought to 41.

A post shared by George W. Bush (@georgewbush) on

Despite being a service dog, Sully was much like many other pets around the nation when showing love and devotion to their owners. Sully can perform a two-page list of commands, reported CNN News. This dog can not only fetch items, but he can also answer the phone.

Sully’s picture has left tears in the eyes of many people this morning, including a couple of people on Fox & Friends, as they shared the picture above with their viewers. This is a reminder that pets feel the loss of their owners when they die.

According to PetPlace, many pets feel a significant bout of anxiety and distress when separated from their owners, even for a short time. When an owner dies, their bereavement is similar to how separation anxiety feels like.

Dogs often mope after the death of a loved one and they’ve been known to wail at funerals. There are plenty of recent stories of dogs refusing to leave the cemetery after the burial of a loved one. Furthermore, there are also incidents of dogs going hunting and finding their owner’s grave weeks after the burial.

The ASPCA did a study a few years back that showed “two-thirds of dogs experience lethargy and loss of appetite after another dog in the household passes, suggesting that dogs are capable of mourning fellow canines, if not human companions,” according to an article from Slate.

One of the more famous stories told about a dog grieving its owner’s death dates back a few centuries ago. A Skye terrier owned by a Mr. John Gray of Edinburgh, Scotland, held a vigil at his owner’s grave for 14 years. Mr. Gray passed away in 1858 and Greyfriars Bobby, which was the Skye terrier’s name, never forgot his owner.

For the next 14 years, until the dog died 1872, Bobby spent the night at his master’s grave. It didn’t matter what the weather was like. Bobby was there in the snow, rain, and hail every night without fail. A statue and water fountain was created to honor this faithful dog’s memory in 1873.

It doesn’t take an expert to see that Sully is feeling something in the picture as he sleeps next to George H.W. Bush’s coffin. The former president and the dog formed a bond, and suddenly Sully’s best friend is no longer there. As seen in the photo, Sully seemed to join the rest of the world in mourning the former president’s death today.

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Home Secretary Sajid Javid reveals he was victim of racist attack just like teen refugee Jamal

The Home Secretary said the video of the horrifying attack on 15-year-old Jamal brought “memories flooding back” about “a very similar” incident after he started comprehensive school in Bristol.

Opening up for the first time about his own experience of racism nearly 40 years ago, he revealed he had been “punched to the ground” at school – “because I was Asian”.

Mr Javid, the son of a Pakistani immigrant, told the BBC that the ‘waterboarding’ of the 15-year-old left him “absolutely outraged” and said he had written to Jamal inviting him and his family for a “cup of tea”.

Mr Javid fumed: “How can this kind of thing still be going on?”

He added: "I saw the video like anyone else and part of me I was clearly absolutely outraged and, to be frank, it reminded of an incident I had myself when I was 11 at school.

“That’s the immediate memories that came back to me and I hated it and I thought how that young boy must feel.”

Mr Javid is one of five children of Pakistani immigrants who arrived in the UK in the 1960s.

The video of Jamal was shot in a school playing field and sparked a public outcry when it was released last week.

It shows Jamal headbutted and dragged to the ground by his neck.

His 16-year-old attacker then pours water over his face while threatening to “drown him” as other pupils cheer.

An online fundraising campaign has already raised more than £50,000.

Jamal’s sister has also been bullied at the same school to the point that she has tried to take her own life.

The family fled Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad and their war-ravaged home in Homs in 2010.

They were resettled in the UK in 2016 after first escaping to Lebanon.

Jamal, who cannot be named in full, said the constant bullying at his school in the UK had left him too scared to even visit the local shop.

His parents’ solicitor have criticised the school for failing to intervene before now. West Yorkshire police said the 16 year-old would appear at a Youth Court in “due course”.



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Transgender services GP is fined for failing to register online clinic

Transgender services GP who gave 12-year-old girl hormones to go through male puberty is fined £12,000 for failing to register her online advice services

  • Helen Webberley, 49, ran the online clinic from her home in Abergavenny, Wales
  • She prescribed sex-change hormones despite a watchdog refusing her a licence
  • The GP was fined but insisted she was ‘acting in the best interests of my patients’

Helen Webberley, pictured outside court in Merthyr Tydfil today, has been fined £12,000 for running a transgender clinic despite being refused a licence to operate it 

A doctor has been fined £12,000 for running an unlicensed transgender clinic where she prescribed sex-change hormones for children as young as 12. 

Helen Webberley, 49, ran the online Gender GP clinic from her home in a bid to help children looking for gender reassignment but her licence to operate it was refused. 

The GP, from Abergavenny in Wales, continued to run the clinic for almost a year and prescribed hormone treatment which causes permanent body changes, a court was told. 

Webberley was convicted of illegally providing healthcare services but said in a statement she was ‘acting in the best interests of my patients’.    

The doctor charged between £75 and £150 an hour for the service offering specialist advice for transgender patients. 

In one case she prescribed hormones to a 12-year-old patient who had been living as a boy and had been taking puberty blockers since the age of nine but was refused testosterone on the NHS. 

Her online firm operated without a licence between March 2017 and February 2018, Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates Court was told, after medical services watchdog Healthcare Inspectorate Wales had refused one last year.


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Webberley insisted she was innocent and said shutting her service risked patients coming to harm but District Judge Neil Thomas ruled her company broke the Care Standards Act, saying she had shown a ‘clear refusal to follow the law’.  

In a statement posted online Webberley said she had never had any complaints from patients. 

She said: ‘With no other timely route to legitimate treatment, and a strong likelihood that my patients would opt to self medicate without any supervision rather than be sent to the back of the waiting list, I chose to continue to provide support and healthcare to the best of my ability.  

Webberley, pictured, prescribed life-changing hormone treatment to children despite a Welsh health watchdog’s decision to refuse her Gender GP service a licence to operate 

GP Helen Webberley’s full statement outside court today  

After the hearing Dr Webberley said she was ‘stunned’ at the court’s decision.

She said: ‘I was stunned at the outcome of the hearing held in August which reached its conclusion today.

‘I began providing private healthcare to the trans and non binary community because there was a desperate need and there was no such NHS provision within Wales.

‘My work, which so many of my patients have called life-saving, has now resulted in a criminal record and this is absolutely devastating for me.

‘I never set out to break the law. I had hoped to be able to work with the HIW to register my services while continuing to provide the care that was so desperately needed, but sadly this was not an option.

‘The needs of this minority group of people must be recognised. We as a country can do better. The NHS waiting time of up to four years for a first appointment is unconstitutional. Better interim care options must be provided and I urge regulators to take a more collaborative approach.

‘I am taking this fight to Parliament. I have written a letter calling for a better deal for trans and non binary people and I urge gender variant people and their allies to lend their support.’  

‘I made the decision to continue providing services, while the issues of registration were resolved,’ she said. 

‘I was acting in the best interests of my patients in continuing to provide support rather than stop as I had been instructed to do.’   

After the hearing she said she was ‘stunned’ at the court’s decision, saying: ‘I began providing private healthcare to the trans and non binary community because there was a desperate need and there was no such NHS provision within Wales.

‘My work, which so many of my patients have called life-saving, has now resulted in a criminal record and this is absolutely devastating for me.

‘I never set out to break the law. I had hoped to be able to work with the HIW to register my services while continuing to provide the care that was so desperately needed, but sadly this was not an option.

‘The needs of this minority group of people must be recognised. We as a country can do better.  

‘I am taking this fight to Parliament. I have written a letter calling for a better deal for trans and non binary people and I urge gender variant people and their allies to lend their support.’ 

Russell Davies, defending her in court, said Webberley set up the company in 2014 and received a ‘snowballing’ of interest.  

Mr Davies said: ‘Webberley didn’t set up the company for financial gain or for profit at all.

‘Here was a doctor who was providing care, information and advice that was very much needed. But her business was not registered.

‘It was never anticipated by Webberley that the registration of the company would be in any way controversial.

The 49-year-old doctor, pictured left outside Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates Court today, charged between £75 and £150 an hour for the service offering specialist advice

‘She didn’t appreciate that the company needed registration until it was pointed out to her.

‘Webberley always followed the international guidelines for transgender care, but what she didn’t do was to state how many patients there were, how old they were and what treatment was included.

‘It is regrettable that she didn’t provide that information. She didn’t provide it due to confidentiality and that was misplaced.

‘She was a very caring practitioner who never developed the company for financial gain. She was only motivated by the care of her patients.’

District Judge Neale Thomas ordered Webberley to pay a £12,000 fine as well as a £2,000 fine issued to her GenderGP buisness.

Dr Webberley was also told to pay £11,307 costs.

Judge Thomas said: ‘In this case there seems to be a clear refusal to follow the law and that is a significant aggravating factor.

‘Webberley was a doctor of considerable experience. The court has to regard this offence as serious.’

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France, the blinkered centre of the world

For all its admiration for debate and veneration of philosophy, France is a land of unchanged, unchallenged verities.

Otherwise serious French people reliably claim that rubbing creams into your thighs can induce weight loss during sleep. They will contend that dried sausage could not cause cancer any more than unpasteurised cheese could provoke stomach disease. French tax and regulatory schemes will customarily seem essentially impenetrable. Some consumers will still defend the andouillette, a means of introducing an animal's bowel to your own. Many French friends will assert that all will be well in your life provided you have properly arranged love, by which they mean sex. In any given week, you can come across long-life milk, arguments for "more Europe", a new book solving the world's problems by Jacques Attali and a perceived crisis in some sub-branch or other of philosophy. To adapt a hallowed French expression, plus ca ne change pas, plus c'est la meme chose.

Emmanuel Macron: France’s gaudiest president?Credit:Philippe Wojazer

So it goes in France this northern autumn. As with the other verities, the government is yet again producing plans – on poverty, energy, bicycles and health. That government comprises a young president who won against the odds, backed by the party he formed. Weirdly, though, the French political system seems differently but as sharply disjointed as our own. We have not seen a former prime miniser (Manuel Valls) abandon his wife, seat, party, country, even his car (in favour of a motor bike) to run for mayor in another country. The loser in our last national election, unlike Marine le Pen, is not contesting a court order to take psychiatric tests. We do not have a president distracted by public mockery of a tacky shop set up on the Champs Elysees to sell presidential trinkets. Imagine the boundless scorn of Charles de Gaulle or Francois Mitterrand at sets of red, white and blue glasses or a T-shirt emblazoned "First Lady". Our political leader stands accused of many flaws, but none as abstruse as the allegations against Macron of lonely narcissism, technological arrogance or the heinous sin of telling the unemployed they merely needed to cross the road to find a job.

The second-most senior minister in our government has not resigned, after first asking to postpone his formal desertion for eight months, having evidently detected a lack of humility in the President. In counterpoint, the third-ranked minister resigned during a radio broadcast and has exiled himself to a cliffside retreat in Brittany. Meanwhile, a 27-year-old who says his job at the Elysee included picking diplomatic gifts and arranging the President's private outings has been pushed to explain why he assaulted protesters and carried a gun.

Amid all this folderol sits a prime minister the like of which any country, not just Australia or France, should strive to keep. In a quiet, considered way, Edouard Philippe recently noted that his work is serious, timely and continuous, with the job done in a concentrated and coherent way. In another comment, Philippe remarked that the Prime Minister's tasks are just life, not drama nor theatre. One reward for such practical purposefulness is that you may well appear a political threat and therefore become vulnerable and dispensable before the President runs for another term. Few political careers end well. When I walked past the Prime Minister's office at Matignon on a recent autumn evening, more concentrated and coherent work was under way. The Prime Minister's light was on and his windows (French windows, obviously) propped open to catch the twilight breeze. Silently, I wished him well, and hankered for more leaders like him.

Most French people aspire to live in the countryside.Credit:AFP

A survey published in October by think tank Terra Nova provided a snapshot of voters for the President's party, LaREM, one which might open a window into the future of France. Macron's supporters turn out to be typically men (68 per cent), with higher education (81 per cent), employed in the private sector (68 per cent), living in big cities and, on average, 49 years old. If, however, the future is to be dominated by such middle-aged, university-educated Paris businessmen, then France's past will continue to fight back.

In France, the past is not another country. Buried in the department of the Drome, I encountered folk who thought aircraft contrails were spraying sedatives and that the local village might adopt its own currency. In Toulouse, one restaurant served only cassoulet, the only variations permitted being that you might eat your duck and sausage stew with foie gras beforehand, salad accompanying, or an apple croustillard adorned by plum ice cream tinged with Armagnac afterwards. Around a couple of corners stood a chocolate shop, Olivier, which opened eight years before Europeans settled Australia, as well as a bar with a singularly honest, honourable title: The Pretext. In Menton, one beachfront restaurant defiantly advertised "no pizzas", while a butcher's shop similarly hewed to tradition, by selling a skewer of ducks' hearts. Eighty-one per cent of the French confided to a survey that they still regarded living in the countryside as ideal, even if they fretted about the dearth of shops and lack of public services.

If the French were really worrying about anything, then that was the death of their Sinatra-like crooner, Charles Aznavour. In addition, they took a deep breath and reflected on the contribution of native-born Algerians, the harkis, to France's war in their country. "Harkis, honneur, histoire" proudly – if belatedly – declared a banner at a cenotaph in Nice. With an even greater time lag, the art establishment identified the model, one Constance Queniaux, for what is surely the most full-frontal classic erotic painting. Gustave Courbet's work was called The Origin of the World. The origin of the world is one matter, but the French remain stubbornly of the view that they know exactly where the centre of the world is located.

Mark Thomas is a Canberra-based writer.

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