Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 2 Aug 2020
Tory MP in custody after woman accuses him of rape
A former Conservative minister has been arrested after a woman accused him of rape, sexual assault and coercive control. The Metropolitan police say they have launched an investigation into four alleged incidents between July 2019 and January 2020. A statement said “a man in his 50s” was taken into custody early yesterday. The Conservative party said: “We take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously.”
Media will be barred from Trump's re-nomination ceremony
The media will be banned from the Republican national convention where Donald Trump will be re-nominated as presidential candidate later this month. “Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed [to] press,” a convention spokeswoman said. The Observer says nominating conventions are “traditionally meant to be media bonanzas”.
Judge asks minister to address SAS ‘execution’ claim
A judge has ordered the Defence Secretary to explain why evidence that a rogue SAS unit “executed” Afghan civilians was withheld from a High Court case. The Sunday Times reports that the special forces regiment is accused of hushing up major war crimes, amid concern about the killings of 22 people in a series of night raids.
TikTok surge as app faces threats from Donald Trump
TikTok is fighting to keep operating in the US after Donald Trump threatened to ban it. “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” said the US president. There have been claims the Chinese-owned platform is a danger to national security. The app has seen unprecedented use in the US since Trump’s threat. “Everyone is going cray cray ... If it does happen, follow me on Instagram,” said one user.
Ministers to give automatic permission for new buildings
A radical shake-up of planning laws will see new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices given “automatic” permission to be built. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick says “outdated and cumbersome” planning rules, in which it takes on average five years to approve a new housing development, are fuelling a “generational divide”. Boris Johnson has promised to “build, build, build” in order to create more affordable homes.
Union threatens Labour on funds after anti-semitism payouts
Labour’s main union backer will review its donations following Keir Starmer’s decision to pay damages to ex-staffers who claimed the party had not dealt with anti-semitism. Unite leader Len McCluskey said there was “no doubt” the union’s ruling executive would be demanding a review of the millions it donates to the Labour Party. “It’s an abuse of members’ money,” he said.
UK lobbies Washington on controversial new nukes
The UK has lobbied the US to support a controversial new warhead for Trident missiles. A letter from Britain’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace, urged Congress to support initial spending on the warhead, the W93, claiming it is critical for “the future of Nato as a nuclear alliance”. The Observer says the move “pits the Trump administration against many Democrats and arms control groups”.
Gandhi to become first non-white to feature on British currency
Mahatma Gandhi is expected set to become the first BAME person to feature on British currency. The Royal Mint Advisory Committee is working to create a coin featuring the legendary figure, who led the protest against British rule in India. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has written to the committee, asking it to “consider recognising the contributions of Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority individuals”.
Anti-Netanyahu protests escalating on Israeli streets
Protests in Israel are gathering pace as thousands of demonstrators assembled outside the official residence of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and jammed the streets of central Jerusalem. During the summer, Israelis have taken to the streets, calling for Netanyahu to resign, protesting his handling of the country’s Covid-19 crisis and saying he should not remain in office while facing trial for corruption charges.
Crime racket exposed as plane overloaded with cocaine crashes
An Australian crime syndicate was exposed when a light aircraft overloaded with cocaine crashed on take-off from Papua New Guinea. The Cessna aircraft was rammed with more than 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of cocaine. Australian Federal Police said “greed played a significant part in the syndicate's activities” and added they cannot rule out that the weight of the cocaine had an impact on the plane’s ability to take off.