Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 April 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Race report ‘glorified slavery’
The government’s race review has been condemned as “culturally deaf” and accused of “glorifying” slavery. The report by the independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities argued that the era of slavery was about how “culturally African people transformed themselves”. Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister, said the comments put a “positive spin on slavery and empire”. Lord Woolley of Woodford, a crossbench peer who founded Operation Black Vote and formerly chaired the government race disparity unit’s advisory group, said: “The only good narrative about the enslavement of Africans is that we survived.”
France returns to lockdown
Schools in France are to close for at least three weeks and travel within the country will be banned as the country faces a dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases. Emmanuel Macron said the government had waited “until the last moment” to impose further restrictions in an effort to win the country “precious weeks of freedom”, but that “we now have to make one more big effort”.
Starmer against Covid passports
Covid passports would be against the “British instinct”, according to Keir Starmer. Speaking to The Telegraph, the Labour leader said: “My instinct is that, as the vaccine is rolled out, as the number of hospital admissions and deaths go down, there will be a British sense that we don’t actually want to go down this road.” Last week, Boris Johnson said he would be open to Covid certificates being used in pubs and other public venues.
Navalny on hunger strike
Alexei Navalny has said he is going on a hunger strike to protest against the prison authorities’ refusal to grant him access to proper medical care. “I have the right to call a doctor and get medications,” said the Russian opposition leader. “They give me neither one nor the other. The back pain has moved to the leg.” A constant thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, Navalny was jailed earlier this year for violating probation terms while recovering from a novichok attack in Germany.
Study reveals Covid ignorance
Just half of people in the UK are able to correctly identify the main symptoms of Covid-19, a major study has found. Researchers from Public Health England and King’s College London also found that fewer than one in five people (18%) in the UK get tested if they have Covid symptoms, while only 43% stuck to self-isolation rules. The researchers also concluded that “the current form of the UK’s test, trace, and isolate system is limited”.
Police review ‘biased’
A whistleblower has claimed that the official policing inspectorate showed bias in favour of the police as it put together a report that backed a government clampdown on peaceful protest. Alice O’Keeffe has officially complained to her bosses at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, claiming that conclusions were reached before evidence was gathered and assessed. O’Keeffe was due to work on a report into the policing of the vigil for Sarah Everard, but was removed from the team after raising concerns and criticising the Met’s actions to colleagues.
Betting boss grabs historic salary
The head of the gambling firm Bet365 has been awarded one of the biggest pay packets in UK corporate history. Denise Coates was paid £421m in the year ending 29 March, while also pocketing £48m in dividends that took her total pay to £469m. The High Pay Centre said it was “appallingly inefficient for single individuals to hoard wealth in this way”. The betting giant has repeatedly been criticised by problem gambling charities.
New rights for crime victims
Victims of crime are to be told when an offender leaves prison as part of a new code in England and Wales. Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the Victims’ Code offered a “simplified and stronger set of rights”. It also ensures access to extra information and support, such as enabling victims of rape to choose the gender of their police interviewer. The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Vera Baird QC, said it represents a “positive step forward for victims”.
Calls for assisted dying reform
One of the UK’s leading brain surgeons has said that an inquiry into assisted dying is “absolutely essential”. Henry Marsh, who has advanced prostate cancer, is backing a group of more than 50 MPs and peers who have written to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland arguing the UK’s laws on assisted dying have fallen behind the rest of the world. Presently, assisting a suicide is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.
Watchdog to probe zoo charity
The charity regulator has launched an inquiry into a zoo charity that employs the prime minister’s fiancee Carrie Symonds, the Daily Mail reports. The Charity Commission is carrying out a statutory probe – its most serious type of investigation – into spending at the Aspinall Foundation following allegations of financial mismanagement at the charity that hired the prime minister’s wife earlier this year. Her position in communications is said to have a “medium to high five-figure” salary.