Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 12 March 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

Met faces inquiry into Everard case

Scotland Yard’s handling of an indecent exposure allegation against the officer suspected of murdering Sarah Everard will be investigated by the police watchdog. The Independent Office for Police Conduct will consider whether Metropolitan Police officers “responded appropriately” to the alleged incident, just days before the marketing executive disappeared. Everard, 33, was last seen in Clapham, south London, on 3 March.

2

Wales to relax lockdown

The “stay at home” order in Wales will be lifted and replaced by a “stay local” message this weekend. From Saturday, four people from two households will be able to meet outdoors to socialise, including in gardens. In other changes, outdoor sports facilities will be able to reopen and indoor care home visits will restart for single designated visitors.

3

Biden eyes Covid ‘independence’

Joe Biden said he hopes that America can “mark independence” from Covid on 4 July if people get vaccinated. The US president said he would order states to make all adults eligible for vaccinations by 1 May. Biden, who had set a target of administering 100 million vaccinations by his 100th day in office, said yesterday this target would be reached on day 60.

4

Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘suffers from PTSD’

The British-Iranian woman held in Iran since 2016 needs urgent treatment for her mental health, according to a charity which says she is suffering from serious depression and PTSD. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces a new court hearing in Tehran this weekend, after her ankle tag was removed. The report was commissioned by the human rights charity Redress and sent to the British government.

5

Nurses may get 2% rise

Nurses’ pay could increase by more than 2% under government plans to defuse mounting controversy, according to The Times. A government source said it was a matter of “when, not if” the current 1% offer is increased, adding that ministers are considering a rise of more than the 2.1% proposed by the NHS. The source also suggested that a rise of between 2% and 3% would be “realistic”.

6

PM under pressure on women’s safety

Boris Johnson is under pressure to take action to tackle male violence and make the UK safer for women in the wake of the disappearance of Sarah Everard. During the annual International Women’s Day debate in the House of Commons, female MPs told stories of the harassment they had faced and called for tougher action from the government when the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill returns to the House of Commons.

7

William says royals not racist

Prince William denied he belonged to a “racist family” yesterday as he publicly addressed claims made by his brother and the Duchess of Sussex. He became the first royal to reject the allegations when he told reporters: “We’re very much not a racist family.” Asked if he had spoken to Harry he replied: “No, I haven’t spoken to him yet but I will do.”

8

New questions over Hancock ‘crony’

A private WhatsApp exchange shows that the former neighbour of Matt Hancock who is supplying the NHS with millions of Covid test tubes joked to the health secretary that he had “never heard of him”. The Guardian says the exchange suggests Alex Bourne, a former publican who had no experience of producing medical devices before he began supplying the government, may have downplayed his relationship with Hancock in public.

9

Royal Mail set for Sunday deliveries

In response to the Covid pandemic and the resulting boom in online shopping, Royal Mail is to trial Sunday parcel deliveries for big retailers. A spokesman said: “The last year has reset so many customer expectations.” Rivals such as DPD and Hermes already make Sunday deliveries for retailers such as Amazon.

10

PM to rule out Scots poll

Boris Johnson will insist that he will not grant a second Scottish independence referendum, even if the SNP wins a majority in May’s elections. Ahead of the prime minister’s speech to the Scottish Conservative Party conference, a government source said: “We’re not having a referendum in the middle of a pandemic”. The Telegraph says Whitehall is increasingly focusing on how to counter the prospect of “Scexit” - Scottish exit from the Union.

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