Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 29 Mar 2014

The Week’s super-quick catch-up on the main news talking points, available from 8am daily

UK News
1. GAY COUPLES CELEBRATE WEDDINGS
The first same-sex weddings in England and Wales have taken place after gay marriage became legal at midnight. "This weekend is an important moment for our country,” wrote David Cameron on Pink News. "It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth."
UK News
2. EXPENSES: MINISTER ‘TO REPAY THOUSANDS’
Maria Miller will be forced to repay thousands of pounds and apologise over her abuses of the parliamentary expenses system, says the Daily Telegraph. The culture secretary over-claimed for her mortgage and then failed to co-operate fully with an investigation into her conduct. Following an official parliamentary inquiry, she will have to repay up to £5,000.
3. CRIMEA: PUTIN AND OBAMA SPEAK ON PHONE
Vladimir Putin has spoken to Barack Obama on the phone to discuss a potential diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. The leaders chewed over a US plan involving a halt to Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine, together with ways to protect Russian speakers in the region. The two men agreed that their foreign ministers will meet soon.
4. CHINESE VESSEL IN NEW SEARCH ZONE
A Chinese patrol vessel sent to collect objects spotted in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has arrived in the latest search area. It has been scouring the ocean, north-east of the previous zone, after aircraft spotted multiple objects, says China’s Xinhua news agency. The Beijing-bound airliner disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board.
People in the News
5. CLIFFORD ARRANGED 'GOOD HONEST FILTH'
PR guru Max Clifford was the “ringmaster” behind a series of “legendary sex parties”, a jury was told yesterday. He described the get-togethers as “good honest filth” but insisted: "No-one was doing anything to anyone that they didn't want to do.” Clifford, who denies 11 counts of indecent assault against seven girls and women, has branded his accusers as "fantasists and opportunists".
6. ARE CLOWNS ENDANGERED SPECIES?
Are Britain’s clowns dying out? Clowns International, the country’s sole organisation representing the performers, has seen its membership drop from almost 1,000 in the 1980s to little over 100. The average age of members is rising, as fewer young people join the ranks. A growing number of people find clowns sinister, it is believed.
7. DID JEREMY CLARKSON USE RACIST TERM?
The BBC could face legal action over allegations that presenter Jeremy Clarkson used a racist term during an episode of Top Gear. After building a bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand, he said: “That is a proud moment, but there's a slope on it”, as a man walked towards them. ‘Slope’ is a derogatory term used for people of Asian descent.
Scots Independence
8. 'OF COURSE SCOTLAND WOULD KEEP POUND'
A UK government minister “at the heart of the pro-union campaign” has told the Guardian that Scotland would keep the pound if it chose independence. The anonymous source said: "Of course there would be a currency union. The UK wants to keep Trident at Faslane and the Scottish government wants a currency union – you can see the outlines of a deal."
9. AVERAGE UK MALE HEIGHT SOARS
The average British man is four inches taller than 100 years ago, according to researchers. Improvements in nutrition, hygiene and housing are among the factors credited for the growth, along with the decline of heavy industry. A typical young man in Britain today is 5ft 10in. This compares with just 5ft 6in a century ago.
10. UTD FANS PREPARE MOYES FLYOVER
David Moyes says Sir Alex Ferguson would have struggled at Manchester United this season. As angry Manchester United fans prepare to fly a plane over Old Trafford, with a banner trailing the words: "Wrong One - Moyes Out", the ex-Everton boss said: "If Sir Alex was here it would be difficult for him as well”. United face Aston Villa in the lunchtime kick-off today.