Vancouver 'riot kiss' photo: details emerge

The image of a couple in a passionate clinch as a riot rages around them was not all it seems.

The image above appears to show a couple lying on the street locked in a passionate kiss as the Vancouver hockey riots raged around them. Taken by Canada-based photojournalist Richard Lam, the photo quickly went viral ans was carried on news sites around the world.

The couple's identity was not known. Lam said that he couldn't tell whether they were kissing, or if one of them was hurt. "I keep looking at the picture but I don't know what I think anymore," he said.

Now it looks as though the less romantic option may be true. An eyewitness, William, contacted the Vancouver Sun. He said thatthe couple were knocked over by two riot police: "The girl who was knocked over landed head first on the pavement with her boyfriend landed partially on top of her. She was in visible pain, crying, but the two officers gave them a parting shove and moved on. Bystanders went to make sure she was OK."

Several readers sent in another version of the photo, which shows the couple from another angle, appears to corroborate this.

An Australian news website, NineMSN, claims to have identified the man in the photograph as Scott Jones, a 29 year old Australian who has been living and working in Vancouver for six months. It identifies the woman as Alex Thomas, a Canadian. According to the report, lots of his friends had posted on his Facebook wall about the story, and he replied: "Classic! This was shortly after the riot police run over the top of us and naturally Alex needed some comforting."

Officials in Vancouver said almost 150 people required hospital treatment and almost 100 were arrested during the riot.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Douglas Carswell leaves Ukip to become independent MP

The Clacton MP quits his party but insists he will not rejoin the Conservatives or trigger a by-election. 

Douglas Carswell has long been a Ukip MP in name only. Now he isn't even that. Ukip's sole MP, who defected from the Conservatives in 2014, has announced that he is leaving the party.

Carswell's announcement comes as no great surprise. He has long endured a comically antagonistic relationship with Nigel Farage, who last month demanded his expulsion for the sin of failing to aid his knighthood bid. The Clacton MP's ambition to transform Ukip into a libertarian force, rather than a reactionary one, predictably failed. With the party now often polling in single figures, below the Liberal Democrats, the MP has left a sinking ship (taking £217,000 of opposition funding or "short money" with him). As Carswell acknowledges in his statement, Brexit has deprieved Ukip of its raison d'être.

He writes: "Ukip might not have managed to win many seats in Parliament, but in a way we are the most successful political party in Britain ever. We have achieved what we were established to do – and in doing so we have changed the course of our country's history for the better. Make no mistake; we would not be leaving the EU if it was not for Ukip – and for those remarkable people who founded, supported and sustained our party over that period.

"Our party has prevailed thanks to the heroic efforts of Ukip party members and supporters. You ensured we got a referendum. With your street stalls and leafleting, you helped Vote Leave win the referendum. You should all be given medals for what you helped make happen – and face the future with optimism.

"Like many of you, I switched to Ukip because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving Ukip."

Though Ukip could yet recover if Theresa May disappoints anti-immigration voters, that's not a path that the pro-migration Carswell would wish to pursue. He insists that he has no intention of returning to the Conservatives (and will not trigger a new by-election). "I will simply be the Member of Parliament for Clacton, sitting as an independent."

Carswell's erstwhile Conservative colleagues will no doubt delight in reminding him that he was warned.  

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.