Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 31 March 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
UK ‘model for race relations’
Britain is a model for race relations and claims of institutional bias are “not borne out by the evidence”, according to a government report commissioned in response to protests last year. It found that pupils from Indian, Bangladeshi and black African backgrounds outperform white British children in their GCSEs, and that “elite professions” are increasingly diverse. But it acknowledged that some ethnic minority communities are “haunted” by historic racism and that explicit discrimination remains a problem. A spokesperson for Black Lives Matter UK said the report “fails to explore” serious issues and the Runnymede Trust said it appeared to “downplay” the impact of racism.
Ministers ‘ignored abuse concern’
The chief inspector of schools asked for stronger powers to monitor independent schools over “potential safeguarding issues” but was ignored by the government, The Guardian reports. It says that Ofsted’s chief inspector raised concerns in 2018 and 2019, but was subsequently stripped of its role in overseeing inspections of private schools, which are now facing a wave of allegations of sexual assault.
Welby contradicts Meghan story
The Archbishop of Canterbury says Harry and Meghan did not get married in secret three days before their official wedding. During the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan said: “Three days before our wedding, we got married.” However, Justin Welby told La Repubblica: “The legal wedding was on the Saturday. I signed the wedding certificate, which is a legal document, and I would have committed a serious criminal offence if I signed it knowing it was false.”
Floyd was ‘begging for life’
The teenager whose footage of George Floyd’s death sparked global protests said Floyd was “begging for his life” as she filmed him. The eye witness, now 18, was one of four young witnesses who to take the stand on the second day of Derek Chauvin's trial. She says she “stays up apologising” to him for “not doing more”. CNN says that “outside the courtroom” the trial is seen “as a test of the US itself”.
Crisis in maternity care
Maternity services are at risk because dispirited midwives are planning to quit the NHS, according to healthcare leaders. The Institute for Public Policy Research found that 8,000 midwives may leave due to the “unprecedented pressure” of the Covid pandemic. Two-thirds of those interviewed reported being mentally exhausted once a week or more.
Trump is back online
Donald Trump is back online with a website to serve the personal offices of himself and his wife, Melania. The website, 45office.com, was launched nearly three months after the former president was banned from social media sites in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. Allies say Trump is also planning a new social media platform that will “completely redefine the game”.
Europeans want Russian jab
France and Germany are negotiating with Vladimir Putin as they seek to bring the Russian Covid-19 vaccine to the EU. Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel held a video call with the Russian president to discuss “cooperation” over vaccines. The move came after Merkel suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab for the under-60s.
New claims against Maxwell
A new alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein claims she was repeatedly raped by the financier and Ghislaine Maxwell in front of her son. The woman accuses the couple of rape, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, physical assault, physical mutilation, emotional distress, blackmail, intimidation, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation. She says she was threatened with being "thrown to the alligators” if she spoke out. Maxwell is awaiting trial in the US and has pleaded not guilty.
Watergate mastermind dies at 90
G Gordon Liddy, one of the masterminds of the Watergate scandal, has died at the age of 90. The BBC says that Liddy remained “unapologetic” for his part in the plan to bug the Democrats’ HQ at the Watergate building during the Republicans' 1972 re-election campaign. He later went on to host a radio show and pursue an acting career.
Easter egg sales bounce back
Sales of Easter eggs have climbed by £48m, a rise of almost 50% on last year, according to figures from retail analysts Kantar. “Grandparents might be showing up with additional treats after 12 months of restrictions,” said a spokesman. M&S, Asda and Thorntons are among those reporting a significant rise in demand.