British teenager defiant in court as she joins supporters wearing protest masks after judge dismisses her as a fantasist

As the teenage defendant filed into the courtroom she glanced back to acknowledge the women lined up in the last row of the public gallery.

Each had a gag over their mouths with an image of stitched-up lips, in a show of support.

“We believe you, we are with you,” they shouted before the judge ordered silence.

The teenager threw them a quick thumbs up before turning round to hear her fate.

Six months earlier she had filed a complaint to police that she had been gang raped in her hotel room during a summer break in Cyprus.

Now she was on trial for fabricating the incident, charged with “causing public mischief”, defined by the Cypriot criminal code as knowingly providing police with “a false statement…

Charlize Theron revives accusations of sexual harassment by ‘famous director’

Hollywood was bubbling with intrigue on Tuesday after Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron revived accusations that “a famous director” sexually harassed her early in her career.

Theron, promoting her new film Bombshell, which details sexual harassment at Fox News under the late CEO Roger Ailes, told how she herself had been subjected to harassment.

Theron told NPR radio that playing former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly allowed her to explore what she called the “grey area” of sexual harassment.

“It’s not always physical assault. It’s not always rape,” she said. “There’s a psychological damage that happens for women in the everyday casualness of language, touch or threat — threat of losing your job. Those are things I’ve definitely encountered.”

She told how, in 1994, she had just moved to Los Angeles when a “famous director” invited her to an audition at his home one Saturday night.

Charlize Theron, pictured in October at the premiere of The Addams Family

When she showed up, the director opened the door in his “Hugh Hefner pyjamas” and touched her leg as she sat on the sofa: she apologised and left in a hurry.

She told the radio station that, driving away, she became angry with herself.

“I just kept hitting the steering wheel,” she said. “I put a lot of blame on myself, that I didn’t say all the right things, and that I didn’t tell him to take a hike, and that I didn’t do all of those things that we so want to believe we’ll do in those situations.”

The South African-born actress first told of the incident in 2009, speaking to OK! Magazine. She mentioned it again in April this year, while promoting Long Shot, telling radio host Howard Stern that she had been shocked by the encounter.

“I had just turned 19, I might have still been 18. I had never been out for an audition,” she told Stern.

“I asked this modelling agent if she’d heard of anything. She said, ‘Yep. Go to this guy’s house. It’s on Saturday at 9pm.

“He had a very healthy ego, he felt very good about himself.

“There was some kind of muzak playing in the house. He sat very close to me. That was strange. The drinking bothered me. I was like, ‘This doesn’t feel right.’”

Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen at the premiere of Long Shot in New York, in April. It was while promoting Long Shot that she spoke to Stern and detailed the harassment

Theron said she kept asking if he wanted her to read the pages of a script she had been given, to which he replied they were just going to talk.

“And then at one point, he put his hand on my knee,” she said. “You just go blank. Like you don’t know what to do, but I left.

“I don’t even know how I got out of the house, but I left. It would have ended really badly.

“I was driving my Ford Fiesta, that I was renting, up Laurel Canyon and I was so angry with myself that I didn’t say something.

“I was like, I’m not that kind of girl. Why did I not tell him to go **** himself? It made me so angry.”

She described him to Stern as a producer, and said: “He was a very big deal and is still a big deal.”

She told Stern that, eight years later, after making her name, she confronted him. She said he had no recollection of meeting her.

“I had my moment,” she said.

Theron has been a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement, and, in an interview with The New York Times, published earlier this month, told how Harvey Weinstein used his power to manipulate women. She said he lied about having sex with her, in order to entice other women to sleep with him.

“Pitting women against each other? Weinstein was really, really good at that,” she told the paper.

“There was a lot of, like, ‘Well, I’m talking to Gwyneth for this movie …’

“One of his lines was that Renée [Zellweger] and I slept with him to get jobs. There was no limit to him. Even in the sexual favours, he would still pit us against each other.”  

Charlize Theron, left, and Shirley MacLaine present the award for best foreign language film at the Oscars in 2017

Weinstein, who goes on trial in January for sexual assault and rape, has always denied accusations of non-consensual sex.

Zellweger, through a spokesman, denied in 2017 that she had slept with Weinstein to further her career.

Theron, 44, has also spoken while promoting the film about how her mother killed her father in front of her, describing him as an alcoholic and a "very sick man." 

She told how, in 1991, he tried to get into the house – belligerent, drunk and armed with a gun. Theron and her mother, Gerda, tried to stop him.

"Both of us were leaning against the door from the inside to have him not be able to push through,” she told People.

“He took a step back and just shot through the door three times.

"None of those bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle. But in self-defence, she ended the threat."

She said that she was “not ashamed” to speak about her traumatic childhood, and said she wanted to end the stigma surrounding abusive families.

“I do think that the more we talk about these things, the more we realise we are not alone in any of it,” she said.

“I think, for me, it’s just always been that this story really is about growing up with addicts and what that does to a person.”

Scandinavian woman ‘forced to withdraw rape claim’ in case similar to British teen’s Cyprus ordeal 

A Scandinavian woman says she was forced by Cypriot police to withdraw a rape claim or face arrest, in a striking parallel to the case of a British teenager who was allegedly gang raped on the Mediterranean island.

The Scandinavian woman said police officers questioned her aggressively for several hours after she was raped by two men outside a nightclub.

The officers accused her of lying and said that if she did not withdraw the rape claim they would arrest her and send her to prison.

Her account bears striking similarities to the alleged treatment of a British teenager who is on trial in Cyprus, accused of concocting a claim of gang rape by Israeli tourists in the resort town of Ayia Napa.

She made the initial complaint in July but 10 days later, after being questioned without a lawyer for eight hours in a police station, signed a retraction statement.

The alleged gang rape of the British teenager happened in the resort of Ayia Napa Credit: AFP

On trial for public mischief, she faces up to a year in prison and a fine of €1,700 if found guilty. She has pleaded not guilty.

The judge in the case is expected to hand down his verdict on December 30.

The 19-year-old British woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has told the trial that officers threatened to arrest her and her friends unless she retracted the claims of being gang raped by a group of young Israeli men.

After reading about the Ayia Napa case, the Scandinavian woman decided to come forward with her account of similar treatment at the hands of the Cypriot police 20 years ago.

It is the first time she has spoken publicly of the assault and has previously only discussed it with her doctor and her husband.

Now aged 43, she was 21 when she met the men in a nightclub in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, in January 1998.

They offered to give her a lift to her hotel. Instead, they raped her in a car park. “I fought for my life and thought I was going to die,” she told The Telegraph.

She went to the nearest police station to report the rape and was taken to a hospital for an examination.

She was then taken to a police station for questioning. “The main investigator was extremely brutal and aggressive. I was in big shock so I had some difficulties remembering details.

“This made him very angry. He then started accusing me of making the whole story up to receive money from my insurance company.”

The same allegation was made by in court by Cypriot police against the British woman.

Both alleged victims said they were mystified by the accusation because they did not think that holiday insurance covered rape and had no intention of claiming any financial compensation.

“I was very afraid and felt trapped in the room with them. They treated me as a big criminal. They kept me in the police station for many hours. They told me that if I didn’t withdraw the rape allegation they would arrest me and send me to prison. So I did and they let me go,” said the Scandinavian woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

She said she was still deeply affected by the ordeal and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder – just like the British teenager who is on trial. “The treatment I received from police was terrible,” she said.

Michael Polak, a British lawyer representing the teenager in the trial Credit: AFP

Michael Polak, a British lawyer representing the British woman, told The Telegraph: “This case bears remarkable similarities to the teenager’s case. It raises serious questions about the investigation of rape in Cyprus and the treatment of rape complainants there.”

In a report in 1998, a Norwegian newspaper claimed that police on the island routinely dismissed rape claims, treating the victims as liars.

The report quoted a Norwegian tour operator who said that “police never take rape claims seriously. All such claims are treated as false.”

“Police have a theory that tourists make such allegations so they can claim expenses for their holiday,” the report said.

A senior Cyprus police officer was quoted as saying: "Why rape when it’s so easy to find somebody to have sex with?"

At a hearing on Thursday, a Cypriot defence lawyer denied that the teenager had made up the rape complaint.

Ritsa Pekri criticised police for failing to download all the social media messages sent by the Israeli men on their mobile phones and said officers failed to secure the crime scene properly.

The prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there had been no rape, Ms Pekri said, calling on the court to acquit the woman.

But Adamos Demosthenous, the prosecutor, insisted the British girl had accused the Israelis of raping her because she felt humiliated and ashamed after learning that she had been filmed while having sex with one of them. He called on the judge to convict her.

Greta Thunberg claps back at President Trump’s tweet telling her to ‘chill’ 

US President Donald Trump on Thursday slammed Time magazine’s naming of Greta Thunberg as 2019 Person of the Year, saying the Swedish teen climate activist should "chill" and go see a movie.

"So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!" he tweeted.

Thunberg’s reply came minutes later, when she changed the bio of her Twitter account to: "A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend."

The exchange came after Time on Wednesday made the 16-year-old its person of the year. In the last year she launched the "Fridays For Future" protest against global warming that has since grown into a worldwide movement and seen her tipped as a potential Nobel laureate.

So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2019

The backlash on social media was swift, with numerous critics assailing Trump for what they saw as bullying, although some high profile tweeters came to the president’s defense.

"There’s a reason we don’t let people run for president until age 35. Greta is a good example," said Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip.

Thunberg has become known for her fiery speeches to world leaders, and was that day in Madrid, where she accused rich countries of "misleading" people into thinking they are taking meaningful action against climate change.

In perhaps her most iconic appearance, she laid in to world leaders at another UN climate summit in New York September, thundering "How dare you?" in accusation of their failure to take action to stop runaway global warming.

 She had arrived in the US at the end of a two-week journey on a sailboat – refusing to fly because of the carbon emissions caused by planes.

Her rhetoric, youth and diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, have made her a frequent target of critics.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed her as a "brat," and following her September speech in New York, Trump quipped that she is a "very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future."

Thunberg’s struggle began quietly in August 2018 when she skipped school for the first three weeks, and then on Fridays spent the day outside Sweden’s parliament with a sign labeled "School strike for climate."

In a November interview with AFP on the eve of her departure from North America, where she had spent almost three months, Thunberg said Trump’s climate change denialism had helped galvanize her movement.

"He’s so extreme and he says so extreme things, so I think people wake up by that in a way," she said.

Thunberg and Trump were briefly in the same small room as they arrived for the New York summit, with video showing the teen glowering at the president as he passed by with his entourage.

"I thought when he got elected, now people will finally, now people must finally wake up," Thunberg told AFP.

"Because it feels like if we just continue like now, nothing’s going to happen. So maybe he is helping."

Former Australian PM, Bob Hawke, pleaded with daughter not to report alleged rape by political ally to police

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke pleaded with his daughter not to report being raped by a Labor MP fearing the case could damage his political career, it is claimed in court documents.

The allegations against Mr Hawke, who died in May aged 89, have been made by his second daughter Rosslyn Dillon, 59, in a legal claim against her father’s estate.

Ms Dillon is seeking 4 million Australian dollars (£2 million) from her father’s $18 million estate, rather than the $750,000 she was left. 

In a 25-page affidavit lodged at the New South Wales Supreme Court and reported by The New Daily, she claims she was raped by Bill Landeryou, a Labor MP and close ally of Mr Hawke,  who died in February aged 77.

Ms Dillon alleges she was sexually assaulted three times: at a Hilton hotel, in parliament and at the MP’s home.

"These instances of sexual assault occurred during a period when, to my knowledge, my father was preparing to challenge the current Leader of the Opposition for the role of Leader of the Australian Labor Party," she alleges in the affidavit.

She confronted her father, who was soon to become Australian Prime Minister, with the allegations at the family home.

Mr Hawke replied: “You can’t go to the police. You can’t. I can’t have any controversies right now. I am sorry but I am challenging for the leadership of the Labor Party.”

Ms Dillon says she was "shocked and hurt" by her father’s request. "He asked me to let the matter go for him and I did so for him.

"I am still haunted by the sexual assaults. I feel that I may have had a chance to get over these rapes if I was able to report the incidents to police."

Ms Dillon says her share of the estate is inadequate given the impact the sexual assaults had on her mental health. Her older sister, Sue Pieters-Hawke, has confirmed Ms Dillon did tell her about the assaults.

Mr Hawke did succeed in securing the party leadership and led Labor to four election victories in succession.

Aung San Suu Kyi to fight genocide charges in the Hague

Once feted by the West as a human rights heroine, Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi will travel to the Hague this week to defend her regime over accusations of genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority, in one of the most-high profile international legal cases in a generation.  

Myanmar rejects the allegations which stem from the military’s savage ethnic cleansing campaign in Rakhine state in 2017 that forced 740,000 people to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they now live in squalid refugee camps. 

Ms Suu Kyi, who will personally represent her fledgling democracy when the first hearings kick off on Tuesday at the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands, has vowed to “defend the national interest.”

In doing so, she will be defending the military who once held her under house arrest for many years to keep her out of power. 

The Myanmar public have rallied to support Aung San Suu Kyi as she travels to the Hague Credit: Lynn Bo/REX

Her decision to brush aside concerns that backing the military’s brutality against the Rohingya will further tarnish her now sullied international reputation, has won her plaudits at home for once again championing the cause of her people.

Myanmar tour companies have organised discount holiday packages to supporters who wish to attend the hearings, with Myanmar citizens in the Netherlands offering homestays and logistical support. 

Daw July, responsible for the visa service at one of the companies, said it was trying to sell the tickets as cheaply as possible. “It is a way to show support for Mother Suu,” she told the Myanmar Times, using Ms Suu Kyi’s local nickname.

The lawsuit charging genocide, including mass murder and rape, was lodged by Gambia, a tiny, mainly Muslim West African state backed by the 57-nation Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 

The case will be fought by a Gambian team led by Abubacarr Tambadou, the British-educated Justice Minister, who spent more than a decade prosecuting cases from Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. 

Rohingya refugees live in squalor and dependent on aid in Bangladesh Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Mr Tambadou personally pushed for formal OIC support to prosecute Myanmar after visiting the overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, and listening to harrowing testimonies about rape, murder and children being burned alive.

“I saw genocide written all over these stories,” he said in an interview with Reuters in Gambia’s capital, Banjul. 

The minister plans to ask the judges to immediately order Myanmar to cease violence against Rohingya civilians and preserve evidence that could help the genocide case. 

He said he would draw from his experience of living through Gambia’s former “brutal dictatorship” as he faces off with the Myanmar delegation. 

“We know too well how it feels like to be unable to tell your story to the world, to be unable to share your pain in the hope that someone out there will hear and help,” he said.    

Police kill suspects held over rape and murder of Indian vet after they ‘attacked officers and tried to escape’

Police in India have shot dead four men who were being held as suspects over the rape and murder of a vet in Hyderabad last week.

The charred remains of the victim, 27, were found a day after she disappeared and the case caused widespread anger in India over the police’s handling of rape and violence against women.

The suspects were taken back to the scene of the crime but were shot after they attempted to escape and steal guns from officers, according to Hyderabad’s police.

"They tried to snatch weapons from the guards but were shot dead," Prakash Reddy, the deputy commissioner of police in Shamshabad, near Hyderabad, said. "They were killed in crossfire."

"We called an ambulance but they died before any medical help could reach them."

Mr Reddy confirmed that two police officers were injured in the incident.

Her family welcomed the news of the killings of the alleged perpetrators.

"It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died," the victim’s father told ANI news agency. "I express my gratitude towards the police and government for this. My daughter’s soul must be at peace now." 

The four men were arrested on charges of raping, murdering and burning the body of the veterinary doctor, who had parked her scooter on a busy highway on November 27.

Protesters burned effigies of "rapists" in Shiv Sena on Thursday Credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Police said the men deflated her scooter tyre and lured her to a truck yard with the promise of fixing the machine. They allegedly then raped and murdered her before setting her body on fire under an isolated bridge, where her remains were found by a milkman last Thursday morning.

High-profile cases of violence against women have provoked fury in India. Thousands of people took to the streets across the country on Monday to protest the brutal attack in Hyderabad. Activists have called for rape cases to be fast-tracked through the courts and for tougher sentences. 

Three officers were suspended last week after the family of the victim accused the police of inaction after some officers told the family that she may have eloped. She had left home on her scooter on Wednesday evening for a doctor’s appointment but had later called her family when she had a flat tyre.

On Thursday, a 23-year-old woman was left in a critical condition after being set on fire by a group of men, including two of her alleged rapists, as she made her way to court for the case in Unnao, in the northern district of Uttar Pradesh.

According to government statistics, nearly 100 women are raped in India every day.

British woman brought back to life six hours after cardiac arrest 

A British woman has described the “miracle” that brought her back to life after her heart stopped beating for more than six hours when she collapsed with hypothermia on a Spanish mountainside.

Audrey Mash arrived at Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron hospital on November 3 after a dramatic mountain-peak helicopter rescue in appalling weather conditions in the Pyrenees with a body temperature of just 20ºC.

Thanks to the quick thinking of rescue workers and doctors’ use of a state-of-the-art ECMO machine that warmed and oxygenated her blood externally, Ms Mash’s heart was sparked back to life with electric defibrillators almost seven hours after she had stopped breathing.

Eleven days later she was discharged, with no ill effects beyond a slight lack of feeling in her fingers. “It supersedes belief.

When I arrived at hospital my chances of survival were not good,” Ms Mash told the Telegraph, adding that around 40 people were involved in her rescue and treatment.

“The amazing thing is the work the doctors and also the firefighters and the medical team that brought me to the hospital did. I am lucky they all realised there was something they could do and not give up on me,” said the 34-year-old English teacher who lives in Barcelona.

Ms Mash said she would not be put off hiking in the future 

“I am ok. I can go back to work, go back to my life. I am not a religious person but it’s like a miracle.” “It’s an exceptional case in the world; the longest cardiac arrest on record in Spain,” said Dr Eduard Argudo, an intensive care specialist who treated Ms Mash at Vall d’Hebron.

Audrey and her husband, Rohan Schoeman, were celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary with a weekend in the Pyrenees near the French border.

That Sunday the couple set out from the hiking lodge earlier than the two friends who were spending the weekend with them.

The weather took an unexpected turn and it began to snow, but they pushed on to the 2,563-metre peak of Torreneules.

“We love hiking,” said Ms Mash, who has been on two trips to the Himalayas but says she cannot remember anything about her anniversary jaunt.   

Mr Schoeman said that when they reached the top, they were hit by a white-out.

They sheltered from the storm behind a rock for a couple of hours, but when the blizzard continued they started to crawl in what they hoped was the right direction. Mr Schoeman said Audrey began to behave strangely, speaking nonsense before she fell unconscious.

“Her eyes rolled and she sighed what seemed to be her last. I looked for her pulse and to see if she was breathing, but there were no signs of life. I thought she was dead. That was about 3pm.”

Alerted by the couple’s two friends, helicopter search teams were scouring the mountains. At 6pm Ms Mash arrived at the hospital and in 20 minutes was being hooked up to an ECMO machine.

When her body reached 30ºC, the medical team successfully jumpstarted her heart at 9.46pm. “The hypothermia saved Audrey’s life functions.

Because her brain was cold, there is no damage,” Jordi Riera, the director of the ECMO team at Vall D’Hebron told The Telegraph.

Indian rape victim set ablaze by gang of men on her way to court as outrage grows over violence against women

A 23-year-old rape victim is in critical condition after being set on fire by a group of men, including two of her alleged rapists, as she made her way to court in northern India on Thursday.

It came after thousands took to the streets of several cities on Monday to protest the brutal rape and murder of a 27-year-old vet in Hyderabad and called for the rape cases to be fast-tracked and for rapists to be given tougher punishments.

A June 2018 survey of 550 experts on women’s issues by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found India was the worst country in the world for sexual violence against women.

32,000 rapes were recorded by the National Crime Records Bureau in 2017 although 99 per cent of attacks are thought to go unreported. India also ranked top for human trafficking for domestic work, forced labour, forced marriage and sexual slavery.

The 23-year-old victim was on her way to catch a train to a court hearing in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh when the mob doused her in kerosene and set her alight.

Activists burn effigies of rapists in Amritsar Credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images

Doctors treating the victim at the Civil Hospital in the regional capital of Lucknow said she had suffered 90 per cent burns and would be flown in an air ambulance for further treatment in Delhi.

Police documents show the woman had filed a case with police in Unnao, alleging she was raped at gun-point in December, 2018.

Her alleged rapist was released suddenly last week after securing bail, a police spokesperson said. It is not the first time that even the Unnao district has made headlines over a rape case.

Women have taken to the streets to protest India's appalling record on women's rights Credit: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images

Police opened a murder investigation in July against a lawmaker from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after he allegedly orchestrated a fatal car crash against a minor who had accused him of rape.

During Monday’s outpouring of anger, one member of parliament suggested that India’s rape problem could only be solved by publicly lynching attackers.

On Thursday, police in the state of Madhya Pradesh confirmed they had arrested a man on suspicion of raping and murdering a 4-year-old girl on December 1. Local media also reported a teenager was allegedly gang-raped and killed in the state of Bihar on Tuesday.

Kamala Harris quits race for 2020 Democratic presidential nomination

Kamala Harris, the California senator, has dropped out of the race to win the Democratic presidential nomination to take on Donald Trump at the 2020 election. 

Ms Harris was seeking to be the first ever black woman nominated for president by the two major political parties and had been widely touted as a strong contender. 

However after a brief polling surge when she challenged Joe Biden, the former US vice president and front-runner, on the debate stage Ms Harris has sunk to low single digits in national polling. 

The source of her struggles appears to have been a mix of being caught between clear Left and Centre pitches from rivals, lack of policy clarity over policies like healthcare and nagging questions over electability . 

In a message to supporters announcing the news, Ms Harris wrote: “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.

“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.

“In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do.

“So, to you my supporters, it is with deep regret – but also with deep gratitude – that I am suspending my campaign today.” 

Ms Harris, who had earned a nationwide reputation for her fierce grillings of Republicans during congressional committee hearings in Washington DC, was seen as a formidable candidate as the race began.

A former California attorney general, Ms Harris, 55, attracted more than 20,000 people to her launch in her home state for a campaign built around the idea of restoring justice to America.

Her standout moment came in the first televised debate in June when she directly challenged Mr Biden over his past stance on busing children to schools to help break down racial segregation. 

The exchange, the first time Mr Biden was taken to task by a rival before the cameras, became the night’s standout moment, replayed by cable TV news and shooting Ms Harris briefly into joint second in national polling.

But since that high, where around 15 per cent of Democrats said they were backing her in surveys, Ms Harris has steadily slipped to an average of 3.4 per cent, according to a poll of polls from the political website Real Clear Politics.

Ms Harris leaned in to the historic significance of her candidacy from the start, adopting a yellow and purple colour scheme similar to that used by the first African-American woman to run for the presidency, Shirley Chisholm, in 1972.

Her failure to build on early momentum in the polls has perplexed political experts, with left-wing senator Elizabeth Warren and little-known moderate Pete Buttigieg instead cementing their places in the top four alongside Mr Biden and Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist.

Ms Harris held the middle ground in the polarised contest Credit: Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

One theory is that in a race centred on a battle between the party’s progressives and moderates, Ms Harris was caught in the middle, trying to appeal to both camps.

Her lack of clarity on healthcare, the most significant policy issue in the race, became emblematic of that challenge. She first backed a ‘Medicare for All’ plan which would give all Americans public health insurance, then insisted under her plan some people could keep their private insurance.

Among a Democratic electorate which surveys suggests prizes the ability to stop Mr Trump over all over qualities in a presidential candidate, Ms Harris also had to repeatedly argue why she was best placed to deliver victory. 

She was also dogged by questions about her record as attorney general in California, including stances on the death penalty and jail terms for people caught smoking cannabis, which frayed her ties to the party’s left-wing. 

During debates she varied her approach, from challenging to Mr Biden to looking down the camera and speaking directly to Donald Trump. But as summer turned to autumn her numbers continued to fall. 

With the race attracting new entrants, such as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the threshold for reaching future debates rising, Ms Harris has decided to end her bid.

Near the end of her 600-word message to supporters, Ms Harris wrote: "I want to be clear: although I am no longer running for President, I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are.

“I know you will too. So let’s do that together.”