Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 19 Dec 2012
PLEBGATE: DID POLICE FRAME MITCHELL?
A police officer falsely claimed to have witnessed Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell calling police "plebs", it was claimed on Channel 4 News last night. The officer wrote to his MP pretending he and his nephew had been among a crowd shocked by the altercation at the gates to Downing Street. But CCTV footage shows there was no crowd. The Metropolitan Police Federation denies a "conspiracy".
BBC 'INCAPABLE' OF HANDLING SAVILE AFFAIR
Peter Rippon, the editor of the BBC’s Newsnight programme, is to step aside in the wake of an “excoriating” report into the broadcaster’s handling of the decision to axe an investigation into child sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile. The 185-page report released this afternoon says the BBC was “completely incapable” of handling the Savile affair.
AFGHANISTAN: 4,000 TROOPS HOME EARLY
David Cameron will announce today that about 4,000 British troops, almost half of Britain’s 9,000-strong force in Helmand, will return early from Afghanistan next year. But the rest will stay until the end of 2014, the deadline set by Nato. Cameron discussed the withdrawal with President Obama in a video call to the White House.
SLICE OF ANTARCTICA IS GIFT TO THE QUEEN
The Foreign Office thumbed its nose at Argentinian sovereignty claims yesterday by naming a 169,000 square mile slice of British Antarctica - including the South Pole - 'Queen Elizabeth Land' as a diamond jubilee gift to the Queen. Foreign Secretary William Hague announced the gift after the Queen sat in on a Cabinet meeting at No 10.
OBAMA BACKS BAN ON ASSAULT RIFLES
President Obama signaled support yesterday for moves in the Senate to reinstate the Clinton ban on assault weapons following the school massacre in Connecticut. His spokesman said there "might" also be moves to ban extended ammunition clips and gun sale loopholes. The National Rifle Association lobby said it would unveil plans of its own on Friday.
U-TURN BY INSTAGRAM ON PHOTO RIGHTS
Facebook's photo-sharing service Instagram did an instant U-turn yesterday on its declared plan to sell users’ photographs without notifying them. It followed an outpouring of protest led by celebrities and professional photographers. Instagram blamed "confusing" language and said: "It is not our intention to sell your photos."
NEW GUIDELINES ON OFFENSIVE TWEETS
The Director of Public Prosecutions said yesterday that new guidelines would see fewer people prosecuted for offensive messages on social networks, but more effective prosecutions in cases where messages on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks "go beyond offensive". They would combat threats and "trolls" without limiting free speech.
CHINA ARRESTS 500 DOOMSDAY CULTISTS
China yesterday arrested about 500 members of the doomsday cult Almighty God Christian for spreading rumours about the "imminent end of the world". The arrests were linked to claims that the world will end on Friday in the ‘Mayan Apocalypse’, but also to the stabbing of more than 20 children at a school by a man suspected of being a member of the cult.
HILLSBOROUGH VERDICTS OVERTURNED
The verdicts of the inquest into the deaths of 96 football fans in the Hillsborough disaster have been overturned at the High Court after an application by the Attorney General. Fresh hearings have been ordered. The court heard that the evidence presented at the original inquest was "unsustainable". Home Secretary Theresa May has also announced a fresh police inquiry.
HOT TICKET: ALAN BENNETT DOUBLE
A double bill of short autobiographical plays by Alan Bennett, ‘Hymn’ and ‘Cocktail Sticks’, has opened at the National Theatre. Nicholas Hytner directs Alex Jennings as Alan Bennett with music by the Southbank Sinfonia. Hymn runs until 17 March, Cocktail Sticks until 30 March. "Delectable", says The Independent.