Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 30 May 2021

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

1

Hancock faces new care home claims

Matt Hancock is under growing pressure over the spread of Covid to care homes after it emerged that guidance from his department ordered hospitals to discharge patients without recommending the use of tests where they were available. Meanwhile, The Observer reports that in early March 2020 care home providers held an emergency meeting with Hancock’s team in which they begged the government not to force them to accept untested residents.

2

Lab leak theory ‘feasible’ say UK agents

British agents now believe it is “feasible” that the Covid pandemic began with a leak from a Chinese research laboratory. In what The Sunday Times describes as a “significant sharpening of tension with Beijing,” the agents are investigating a possible leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Last week in the US, Joe Biden ordered his intelligence agencies to investigate the leak theory.

3

Starmer slams PM’s ‘weak slow’ decisions’

Labour has warned that “mistakes are being repeated” ahead of the 21 June unlocking date. Writing in The Observer, leader Sir Keir Starmer said government “incompetence” is putting the end of restrictions at risk, after “weak, slow decisions” allowed the variant first discovered in India to spread. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, has called for a “much better quality of debate” on the trade-offs involved in ending restrictions on 21 June.

4

North Korea executes man in front of family

Kim Jong Un has ordered the execution of a man selling illegal bootlegs of South Korean movies and music. The man was shot by a firing squad in front of 500 people, including his family, for illegally selling music and films. The chief engineer at the Wonsan Farming Management Commission was accused by authorities of “anti-socialist acts” for trading the South Korean videos, a source told Daily NK.

5

Post Office gagged victims

The Post Office was using gagging clauses as recently as this year to silence sub-postmasters who were wrongly accused over supposedly missing money. A ban on criticising the government-owned organisation was imposed, leaving some too scared to speak about what is widely regarded as the biggest miscarriage of justice in British history. The Post Office accused hundreds of sub-postmasters of being criminals following shortfalls in their accounts but a defective IT software called Horizon was to blame.

6

PM ‘weds Carrie’ in secret ceremony

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has married his fiancee Carrie Symonds in a secret ceremony at Westminster Cathedral, according to reports. Downing Street has declined to comment but several newspapers say that the wedding was held in front of close friends and family on Saturday. The Mail on Sunday says 30 guests were invited to the ceremony at short notice - the maximum number of attendees allowed under Covid restrictions in England.

7

Police arrest man struggling with cash

The Metropolitan Police seized £5m in cash after police noticed a man struggling to carry bags stashed full of money. Authorities said that Ruslan Shamsutdinov was spotted exiting an address in Fulham, southwest London, and was “noticeably struggling” to carry heavy bags, which he put in a nearby parked car. Police officers stopped him, and found a “considerable amount of cash” in the bags. The sum is the largest amount ever taken by the capital’s police force.

8

PM plans new national flagship

Boris Johnson says a new national flagship will promote British trade and industry around the world. The vessel, a the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, would be used to host trade fairs, ministerial summits and diplomatic talks as the UK seeks to build links and boost exports following Brexit. Labour said: “We’d want to see it built in Britain, supporting jobs and skills in shipyards here.”

9

Physician calls for assisted dying

Terminally ill people are treated worse than animals, says the Queen’s former physician. Sir Richard Thompson, the former president of the Royal College of Physicians, said helping patients to die who were “suffering uncontrollably” with a “nasty disease” should be allowed.  “I think we treat a lot of patients worse than we treat animals,” he told The Sunday Times. It is currently a criminal offence to help someone end their life, with a prison sentence of 14 years.

10

Chelsea win Champions League again

Chelsea won the Champions League with a convincing victory over Manchester City in an all-Premier League confrontation in Porto. Kai Havertz netted the winner three minutes before half-time when he collected a defence-splitting pass from Mason Mount to round City goalkeeper Ederson and score. The result leaves City still searching for a Champions League trophy and the BBC says Guardiola “cannot escape scrutiny for his part in this defeat” after a “tactical gamble which backfired”.

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