Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 30 April 2021

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

1

Tories extend lead despite sleaze row

The Conservatives have extended their polling lead over Labour despite a week of sleaze allegations and other scandals hitting the government. A YouGov poll for The Times found an 11-point gap between the Tories and Labour. The Conservatives are on 44%, with Labour down one point on 33%. The results come despite more than half of the respondents agreeing that the Tories are “very sleazy and disreputable”. Despite this, 40% of voters retain a favourable view of Johnson, compared with 36% for Keir Starmer.

2

Actor suspended over abuse claims

The actor and director Noel Clarke has been suspended by Bafta after multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Weeks after Clarke received its award for outstanding contribution to British cinema, Bafta said it made the decision “in light of the allegations of serious misconduct” published in The Guardian. The paper last night published claims that the actor groped, harassed and bullied 20 women. The star of Kidulthood and Doctor Who said he “vehemently” denies “any sexual misconduct or wrongdoing”.

3

Dozens die in Israeli crush

At least 44 people have been killed in a stampede at a religious festival in Israel. Emergency services said dozens more had been wounded at the Lag B’Omer festival at the foot of Mount Meron. Early reports suggested a structure at the site collapsed, but authorities later said the disaster was the result of a stampede. An official said he was shocked by the size of the crowds at Mount Meron overnight, estimating that at around 100,000 attended the event.

4

Navalny slams ‘thief’ Putin

A gaunt Alexei Navalny has described Vladimir Putin as a “naked, thieving emperor” in a new video. The jailed activist yesterday addressed a Moscow court by videolink, saying the Russian president had hijacked the memory of the Soviet victory in the Second World War to compensate for his failure to tackle widespread poverty. It was the opposition politician’s first public appearance since starting a two-and-a-half year jail term, seen as punishment for his staunch criticism of the Kremlin.

5

Experts demand Covid inquiry

Leading experts have joined calls for Boris Johnson to launch a public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the Covid pandemic. The Institute for Government, whose leadership includes former Conservative cabinet minister David Lidington and former Labour science minister Lord Sainsbury, will call on the prime minister to set up a statutory public inquiry in May. Meanwhile, respected healthcare think tank the King’s Fund will tell Downing Street: “Now is the time.”

6

‘Black eye’ Maxwell picture released

A photograph of Ghislaine Maxwell with an apparent black eye has been released by one of her lawyers. The jailed former socialite appears in a close-up shot with a mauve patch beneath her left eye. Her legal team are currently complaining about her treatment in jail. The daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell is charged with assisting convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein in his abuse of under-age girls. Maxwell denies the allegations.

7

Amazon triples profits

Amazon continued to benefit from the growing popularity of online shopping in the first three months of the year, with a huge rise in sales and a tripling of profits. The BBC says almost every aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic has “served to boost the tech giant’s revenues, from video streaming to grocery delivery”. With Amazon expecting the trend to continue for at least some months, one analyst said the pandemic could herald “a golden age” for the web giant.

8

PM’s number ‘available online’

Boris Johnson’s personal mobile phone number has been available on the internet for the past 15 years. The BBC says the number, published in a 2006 press release that was never deleted, appears to be the one the prime minister still uses. Labour said the availability of Johnson’s phone number had implications for security, lobbying and the risk of blackmail. Downing Street declined to comment.

9

Farmer quits after abuse video

A farmer has resigned from a meat industry standards body after undercover footage showed a worker hammering pigs to death. Philip Sleigh had helped to draw up welfare standards as chair of the pigs standard setting committee of Quality Meat Scotland, a public body to which he had been appointed as a director by the Scottish government. The video also shows sows with severe injuries, including organs protruding from their bodies.

10

Arrests in Gaga dog case

Five people have been arrested in the Lady Gaga dognapping case, including the woman who returned them. In February, attackers shot dog walker Ryan Fischer in the chest and stole Lady Gaga’s pets, named Koji and Gustav. Police do not believe that the thieves knew the dogs belonged to the pop star but believe the motive for the theft was the value of the French bulldogs – which can run into the thousands of dollars.

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