Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 18 Oct 2020

1

Tony Blair accused of breaching coronavirus rules

Tony Blair performed a “flagrant” breach of Covid-19 restrictions by failing to self-isolate for a fortnight after a two-day trip to the US on a private jet, according to the Sunday Telegraph. A photograph shows the former prime minister leaving a restaurant in Mayfair 10 days after his return from Washington DC last month. A spokesman insisted Blair “posed no risk to anyone”.

2

US announces its first female execution since 1953

The US Justice Department has scheduled the execution of the first female federal inmate in almost 70 years. Lisa Montgomery, who strangled a pregnant woman before cutting out and kidnapping the baby in 2004, is due to be given a lethal injection in Indiana on 8 December. The last woman to be executed in the US was Bonnie Heady, who died in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953.

3

Salisbury poisoning policeman says he is quitting force

The police officer who almost died after he came into contact with novichok during the Salisbury poisonings in 2018 says he is quitting the force. Writing on Twitter, DS Nick Bailey said he was leaving Wiltshire police after 18 years because he “can no longer do the job”. He added: “I know that I won’t find peace whilst remaining in that environment.”

4

Gulf minister accused of sexual assault by British woman

A British woman has accused a Gulf minister of sexual assault, reports The Sunday Times. Caitlin McNamara said she was attacked by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the minister of tolerance in the United Arab Emirates. The sheikh denies any wrongdoing and said that he was “surprised and saddened” by the allegation.

5

Record number of shops closed in first half of 2020

New data shows that a record number of shops closed on UK high streets during the first half of this year as the coronavirus crisis hit hard. According to research by the Local Data Company and accountancy firm PwC, some 11,120 chain store outlets shut between January and June. The BBC says the pandemic is “turbo-charging change” as more people shop online.

6

Johnson and Hancock fare badly in new opinion poll

British voters do not trust Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock to beat coronavirus, according to a new survey. Just 36 per cent trust the prime minister to lead the response to the pandemic, against 44 per who do not – an overall rating of -8. The health secretary has a a trust rating of -13 based on just 26 per cent trusting him and 39 per cent expressing distrust. One quarter of those polled say their household income has dropped due to the crisis.

7

Azerbaijan and Armenia agree to a new ceasefire

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a “humanitarian ceasefire” in the conflict over the contested enclave of Nagorno Karabakh, according to a statement from the foreign ministries of both countries. The new agreement – which follows a broken truce which had been brokered by Moscow - was announced after both sides earlier in the day accused each other of attacks that violated that week-old peace deal.

8

Churches say they are worth £12.4bn to English society

Churches have estimated their value to society at £12.4bn, reports The Observer. A study by the National Churches Trust calculated the figure after finding that the Church of England’s 16,000 churches were running or supporting 35,000 projects before the Covid-19 crisis, including 8,000 food banks, 2,400 night shelters and 2,300 breakfast or holiday clubs for children.

9

Queen pardons man who confronted London attacker

The Queen has granted a pardon to the murderer who confronted the London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan with a narwhal tusk while on day release. Steven Gallant has been granted the royal prerogative of mercy, an extremely rare case of absolution for a convicted murderer. The move means the 42-year-old will see his 17-year sentence reduced by 10 months, and could apply for parole next summer.

10

Grant Shapps says ‘unused’ cycle lanes are backing up traffic

The transport secretary says too many cycle lanes are being left “unused” with traffic “backed up” as a result of his environmental measures. Grant Shapps warned councils that he is “not prepared to tolerate” badly designed road closures and new cycle lanes which are imposing “sweeping changes” to entire communities. In a change of messaging, he added: “No one should be in doubt about our support for motorists.”

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