Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 April 2021

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

1

PM said he would ‘let Covid rip’

Boris Johnson told Downing Street aides that he would rather let Covid “rip” than impose a second lockdown, The Times reports. The prime minister allegedly argued in September that there was no evidence lockdowns worked and described them as “mad”. Following consecutive leaks against the prime minister, a No. 10 spokesperson said: “These are gross distortions of his position.”

2

Calls for Covid fines review

Tens of thousands of Covid fines issued in England during the pandemic should be reviewed, MPs and peers have said. The joint committee on human rights spoke out after it emerged that more than a quarter of prosecutions for breaching the regulations in the first two months of the year were shown to have been wrongly brought. They said that regulations, which have been changed at least 65 times since March last year, are “muddled, discriminatory and unfair”.

3

Crisis deepens in India

The Covid crisis in India is set to hit further densely populated areas after reports of a positivity rate as high as 50% in the huge port city of Kolkata. Medics in the city said one in every two people who had received a virus test had proved positive. New coronavirus infections in India have hit a record peak for a fifth successive day, with infections rising by more than 350,000 in just 24 hours and some 2,812 deaths overnight.

4

Dairy sales crash post-Brexit

Sales of dairy products to the EU are down 9% since Brexit, new figures show. With sales of chicken and beef down by almost 80%, the trade barriers in Boris Johnson’s deal have cost exporters more than £1.1bn since the start of the year, according to the Food and Drink Federation. The group says it is “essential” that the UK restarts talks with the EU to resolve the crisis. Johnson has previously rejected an offer from the bloc to align with the EU on food standards.

5

Syrian teen sues Robinson

A teenager who is suing Tommy Robinson for libel is seeking between £150,000 and £190,000 in damages from him. Jamal Hijazi was filmed being attacked in a Huddersfield playground and had to flee the town after the far-right activist aired “entirely distorted anti-Muslim” claims about him. The Syrian’s lawyer said Robinson had continued to exacerbate the distress caused to the family during the libel trial.

6

HRW accuses Israel of apartheid

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Israel of committing crimes of apartheid and persecution to “maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians”. Its report drew on years of human rights documentation, analysis of Israeli legislation, a review of government planning documents and statements by officials. Israel’s foreign ministry responded to the report by accusing HRW of a “longstanding anti-Israeli agenda”.

7

Andrew joins with disgraced banker

Prince Andrew has set up a new company with a banker accused of sexual harassment. Harry Keogh, once a senior figure at private bank and wealth manager Coutts, resigned in March 2018 following claims that he inappropriately touched young female staff, made lewd remarks and was a heavy drinker. The Duke of York has formed a company with him to take care of his family investments.

8

McCann parents have £750,000 fund

Madeleine McCann’s parents have more than £750,000 in a fund to bankroll a private search for their daughter if the police hunt ever ends. The latest accounts for Madeleine’s Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned Ltd show a balance of £773,629 to be used to “secure the safe return to her family” of Madeleine, to ensure her “abduction is thoroughly investigated” and to make sure her assumed abductors “are identified and brought to justice”.

9

Maxwell ‘humiliated’ in prison

Ghislaine Maxwell felt “intimidated and humiliated” by prison guards as she used the bathroom, her lawyer has claimed. Bobbi Sternheim said that during a legal meeting, Maxwell requested and was given permission to use the bathroom, “but… the guard team leader stood knee to knee with Ms Maxwell while Ms Maxwell sat on the commode”. Maxwell is being held on federal sex trafficking charges.

10

Mastermind crowns youngest winner

A 24-year-old student from Glasgow has become the youngest ever champion of the BBC’s Mastermind. Jonathan Gibson won the final by four points - scoring a perfect 11 out of 11 in his specialist subject, the comedy song-writing duo Flanders and Swann. Last night’s grand final was John Humphrys’ final episode after 18 years as host. Humphrys has presented 735 episodes of the quiz show and asked more than 80,000 questions.

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