Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 May 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Prince William attacks BBC
Prince William says the BBC’s failures around Martin Bashir’s 1995 Panorama interview with his mother “contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation”. The royal spoke out after the publication of a report which concluded that the former Panorama reporter had used “deceitful behaviour” to induce Diana, Princess of Wales, to agree to the 1995 interview. The Times says the Duke’s rebuke of the corporation is “unprecedented”.
Israeli-Hamas ceasefire begins
A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas has come into effect, bringing to an end 11 days of bombardment in which more than 240 people have died, most of them in Gaza. US President Joe Biden said that the ceasefire offered a “genuine opportunity” for progress. Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory in the conflict and a Hamas official has warned that the group’s hands “are on the trigger”.
Covid variant rises 160% in UK
Confirmed cases in the UK of the Covid variant of concern that was first detected in India have risen more than 160% in the past week. Data from Public Health England shows there have now been 3,424 confirmed cases of the B.1.617.2 variant in the UK, up from 1,313 cases last week. Meanwhile, another variant has been designated as “under investigation” after it was discovered in the UK, Greece and Chad. The UK's overall Covid case rate is unchanged week on week.
PM still plans to scrap distancing
Boris Johnson says he still hopes to scrap the “one-metre plus” social distancing rule next month. The prime minister said it was the “single biggest difference” the government could make to help pubs get back on their feet. Speaking to the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, Johnson said that the move would depend on the data “continuing in the right direction”.
Unrest follows Swansea vigil
Cars were set on fire in Swansea last night after a vigil descended into violence. South Wales Police said they attended “large scale disorder” in the Mayhill area of the city. The force warned people to stay indoors amid chaotic scenes after people gathered to remember a man who recently died. Footage on social media showed crowds cheering as a burning vehicle was rolled down a hill.
Home Office raised asylum suicide risk
A watchdog has found that the Home Office’s hastened deportation of asylum seekers who crossed the Channel in small boats led to “unprecedented levels” of those at risk of suicide. When the government was operating a programme of “compressed” charter flights last year, one-third of the detainees at Brook House immigration removal centre were placed on constant suicide watch, says the Independent Monitoring Board.
Baby’s body found in canal
The body of a baby boy has been discovered in a canal in the West Midlands. A passer-by spotted the child in a waterway in Rough Wood Country Park, Willenhall, on Thursday afternoon. Police say they are hunting the child's mother. “We're now investigating these very sad circumstances to understand exactly what has happened and if anyone has come to harm,” said the West Midlands police.
Civil service given days for aid cuts
Civil servants were given just five to seven working days to prepare 30% cuts in the overseas aid budget last summer. The Guardian says the government spent only seven hours discussing the proposed £2.9bn cuts to multilateral and bilateral aid, and then imposed them on the world’s poorest countries. The cuts were made on the basis of a forecast shown five days later to be too pessimistic, the paper reports.
Man tried to frame landlord for terrorism
A court has heard that a tenant tried to frame his landlord for the 2017 Westminster Bridge terror attack after a row over a faulty boiler. Gerald Banyard, 67, sent two packages to police, suggesting that Ian Anderson-Boles was friends with Khalid Masood, who drove a car into pedestrians. Southwark Crown Court heard police spent some 260 hours probing Banyard’s false claims. Banyard was jailed for three years and two months.
Plastic bag charge rises
The cost of a single-use plastic carrier bag in English shops has officially risen from 5p to 10p. From today, all stores have to apply the charge. Until now, smaller retailers were exempt. Campaign group Friends of the Earth welcomed the scheme but said it still had “significant shortcomings”. Since the original 5p levy was introduced in England in 2015, use of plastic bags has declined by more than 95%.