Nimco Ali Can’t Fly Despite Friends In High Places

A Somaliland-born Nimco Ali has problems with her visa | Ingmar Bergman’s love of landlines | Tristram Hunt is still a V&A tourist | Amber Riley’s Leading Ladies leave egos at door | Jason Isaacs slams Sean Spicer 

No VISA has arrived for Nimco Ali to the US, despite letters of support from such luminaries as Bill and Melinda Gates, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and our own Zac Goldsmith. 

Somaliland-born Nimco Ali, who arrived in the UK as a child refugee from Somaliland, is a leading female genital mutilation campaigner. She had been invited to New York to speak at the Goalkeepers Conference, held by the Gates Foundation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former president Barack Obama and Nobel Peace Prize Malala Yousafzai among the guests. It starts tomorrow.

Letters have been sent to Woody Johnson, the new US ambassador to the UK. But though the jet is revving on the tarmac, no visa has arrived. Ali was subjected to a higher level of checks than a regular visitor.

“I went to Somaliland last year and again this year, and have also been in Pakistan,” Ali tells me this morning.  “I’ve never had a detention in my life,” Ali despairs. “Let alone a criminal record.”

Ali has been highlighting the plight of girls subjected to FGM in the UK and Somalia, of which Somaliland is an autonomous region. “It’s so infuriating,” she tells us. “I’m immensely privileged to have people like this able to speak out on my behalf, but there’s nothing they can do. It jeopardises the FGM case.”

The Londoner contacted the US Embassy this morning, which said: “As a matter of policy we don’t comment on individual cases,” said a spokesman. “Speaking generally, I can say we always encourage all travellers to make their visa application well in advance of their travel dates.”

IT’S not just Boris Johnson and Theresa May in New York today. Tony Blair is also in town speaking at the Concordia Annual Summit, held at the Grand Hyatt hotel just a few blocks away from the UN, which meets tomorrow. David Miliband is also speaking at the summit, as did Christine Lagarde. And Donald Trump is also making a rare visit to town. It must be hell to get a dinner reservation tonight, let alone a security detail.

Get ready for a year-long diet of Swede

SUMMER is over, the nights are drawing in, so what could be better than a year of Ingmar Bergman? Yesterday the Swedish Ambassador’s residence hosted the launch of the film-maker’s centenary, during which his works will be shown and performed worldwide. His muse Liv Ullmann was among the guests.

Swedish documentary maker Marie Nyreröd, who filmed a series of interviews with Bergman, observed that he was reclusive but loved to talk on the phone. He explained to her that he loved the medium because people’s voices give away more than their faces.

It brings “a kind of friendly anonymity to the whole situation”, Bergman put it. He’d have hated Skype.

Quote of the Day

‘Once upon a time, Michel Barnier would have croissants and coffee for breakfast, now he has David Davis’

Tim Farron delivers a zinger at the Lib-Dem party conference. If only he had managed such wordplay when he was party leader

Tristram knows which party he prefers

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Still a fan: Tristram Hunt (Getty images)

A LABOUR reunion last night as Sadiq Khan and V&A director Tristram Hunt toasted the winners of the British Land Celebration of Design Awards.

Held at the Gladstone Library in Whitehall, Khan debunked rumours that he and his team had only accepted because they knew the attendees would be anti-necktie, while Hunt told The Londoner that he can’t resist acting like a tourist.

“One of the keepers caught me the other day, loitering around the 20th-Century Galleries, just sort of looking at things.” he said with a smile. “But the great joy of my job is that it’s September and I don’t have to go to any party conferences.”

ACTOR Jason Isaacs was in LA for an Emmys party and posted a celeb sighting on Instagram. “Who do I spot at the bar late at night but the poisonous purveyor of lies Sean Spicer,” he wrote. “Three surprising things about him: he comes about up to my nipples; he doesn’t think he should hide himself under a rock from shame for the rest of his life; and he’s deeply unattractive, from the inside out. Has the aura of a giant festering abscess.” Don’t hold back, Jason.

West End girls on song

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Leading Ladies: Cassidy Janson, Amber Riley and Beverley Knight (image: Eroteme.co.uk)

TO THE Savoy last night, where a trio of West End starlets showcased their new album Leading Ladies, out on November 17. The Bodyguard’s Beverley Knight, Beautiful’s Cassidy Janson and Dreamgirls’ Amber Riley have combined their talents, but any diva behaviour has been checked in at the door.

“We all have respect for one another’s gifts,” Riley told us. “Sometimes egos get in the way, but we’ve established ourselves in our own right and are fans of one another. Even when we were picking solos we were turning to each other and saying, ‘You should do this one’.”

Riley, an American, has been in the UK for a year, so there’s been time for some British delicacies. “I go to Poppie’s fish and chips,” she said. “My dresser AJ said ‘You need to go to Poppie’s’. But I haven’t done the jellied eel thing yet.”

Tweet of the Day

“Spent the day in bed…”

Singer Morrissey posted his first tweet yesterday. It was as inspiring as his first novel

CRITIC of the day: White House adviser Kellyanne Conway says Donald Trump probably “barely noticed” Alec Baldwin winning an Emmy for impersonating the President. Yeah, right.

Everyone’s bitching about Boris

GENTLEMEN prefer blonds. Yesterday Donald Trump met Boris Johnson, and Twitter started a caption competition. “Is he burping him after a feed?” one said. “Cleaning off the dandruff?” another wondered. The winner was John Schindler: “I moved on Boris like a bitch.”

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