Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 31 July 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Israel accuses Iran over tanker attack
Israel has accused Tehran of being behind an attack on an oil tanker in which two crew members - a British national and a Romanian citizen - were killed. The Liberian flagged Mercer Street, which is linked to an Israeli tycoon, was hit off the coast of Oman late on Thursday in what is thought to have been an attack involving multiple drones. Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, said: “Iran is not just an Israeli problem, but an exporter of terrorism, destruction and instability that harms us all.”
Flood of tribunals expected over jabs
Lawyers expect a wave of legal action over attempts to make sure staff are double-vaccinated against Covid, as controversy grows over the prospect of a mandatory “no jab, no job” policy in the workplace. Predicting a flood of vaccine-related discrimination claims in the months ahead, Elissa Thursfield, head of employment lawyer and a director at Gamlins Law, said: “We’re definitely going to see a lot of employment tribunals on this.”
NHS ‘planned to withdraw care from elderly’
The NHS made confidential plans to withdraw hospital care from people in nursing homes in the event of a pandemic, reports the Daily Telegraph. Secret Whitehall documents show that the NHS plans refused treatment to those in their 70s with “support” diverted to so-called “end of life pathways”. More than 42,000 residents in England and Wales died during the Covid pandemic and hospitals released thousands of patients into care homes without testing.
Hong Kong arrest over anthem booing
Police in Hong Kong have arrested a man on suspicion of insulting the national anthem, after he allegedly booed China’s national anthem while watching the Olympics at a mall. According to a police statement on Facebook, the 40-year-old man was detained on Friday after waving colonial-era Hong Kong flags and booing, while urging others to join in with him. Hong Kong passed a law in June 2020 that criminalised any actions that insult the national anthem.
Blow for Trump in tax battle
The US justice department has ordered the tax authorities to hand over former president Donald Trump’s tax returns to Congress. The BBC says the ruling appears to end a long legal battle over the records and is “seen as a sharp legal blow to Mr Trump”. Every US president since 1976 - except Trump - has released their tax returns, even though they are not required by law to do so. Republicans on Capitol Hill denounced the ruling, describing it as politically motivated.
Households warned over energy costs
Families have been warned they are facing the biggest energy bills rise in a decade with more than half facing an increase of about £150 a year. The Times says the cost of gas and electricity is expected to soar as a result of an energy price cap rise, which is expected next week. Darren Jones, chairman of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee of MPs, said: “It’s important that energy companies… are fully using their funding to support customers in fuel poverty.”
Victory for Stonehenge campaigners
Campaigners have won a High Court battle over the government’s decision to approve a controversial road project that includes a tunnel near Stonehenge. Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site challenged the decision of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to back the £1.7bn scheme to overhaul eight miles of the A303, including the two-mile tunnel. There were warnings it could cause “permanent, irreversible harm” to the Unesco World Heritage Site in Wiltshire.
Man sentenced for Whitty assault
A man has been sentenced for assaulting the chief medical officer Chris Whitty in central London. Lewis Hughes, 24, from east London, admitted one charge of assault by beating Prof Whitty in St James’s Park. He was handed an eight-week custodial sentence, suspended for two years, and a fine of £100. Jonathan Chew, 24, from Chelmsford, Essex pleaded not guilty to the same charge of assault by beating and will go on trial in November.
Covid outbreak on cruise ship
Six guests have tested positive for coronavirus on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas cruise ship. The cruise line has confirmed that four of the guests are vaccinated and two are unvaccinated minors. The six guests and their immediate travel parties will disembark in Freeport, Bahamas and will separately travel home “via private transportation,” Royal Caribbean said. Vaccinated guests aboard Adventure of the Seas are not required to wear face coverings on the ship.
Biles pulls out from more events
Simone Biles has withdrawn from Sunday’s vault and uneven bars gymnastics finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The American gymnast caused a stir this week when she withdrew from Tuesday’s women’s team final and Thursday’s individual all-around final saying she had to focus on her mental health. A US Gymnastics statement said Biles would “continue to be evaluated daily”.