Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 October 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Ministers ‘preparing for Plan B’
Speculation is growing that the government is paving the way to implement “plan B” measures in England to combat the spread of Covid. The Observer reported that the UK Health Security Agency contacted local authorities on Friday to canvass their level of support for the “immediate rollout of the winter plan – plan B”. Scientists said that uptake of the booster jab was crucial in determining whether the UK would need to switch to the restrictions.
Zuckerberg ‘not interested in safety’
The Facebook whistleblower who has plunged the social media giant into a fresh crisis said Mark Zuckerberg has not shown any readiness to protect the public from the harm his company is causing. “Right now, Mark is unaccountable,” Frances Haugen told The Observer. “He has no oversight, and he has not demonstrated that he is willing to govern the company at the level that is necessary for public safety.”
Relative to join Queen at engagements
The Queen will be accompanied by one of her children or grandchildren when she appears in public in the future, reported The Telegraph. The move has been agreed to avoid letting the public down at the last minute in the event of future health scares. Her Majesty cancelled a trip to Northern Ireland earlier this week under doctors’ orders. She is said to still be resting at Windsor Castle and on Saturday on “light duties”.
NHS ‘close to real catastrophe’
The NHS faces its hardest winter yet, reported The Independent, as doctors, nurses and health officials from across the country warned the mounting crises on several fronts mean the health service is facing a “very real catastrophe”. The chair of the government’s Covid modelling committee, Professor Graham Medley, said the country could be “three or four weeks away” from a serious problem.
Maxwell fears jurors will resent her wealth
Potential jurors at the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell are expected to be asked in advance if they have strong views about people with “luxurious lifestyles” or if they have supported the #MeToo movement. One question from the British socialite’s lawyers states: “Do you have any strong views regarding people who are wealthy?” The Sunday Times says Maxwell’s legal team is worried American jurors may be swayed by her “gilded lifestyle”.
Driver switches hits bin collections
Households are being warned about a shortage of bin collections at Christmas, reported The Independent. Residents in London, Devon, Surrey and Peterborough have already reported collections being suspended or delayed as drivers reportedly leave their jobs to increase their salary by as much as 60% elsewhere. Bin lorry drivers, who earn on average £25,000 a year, have been offered as much as £40,000 to switch to roles in supermarkets, food hauliers or online retailers.
Police probe football banner
Police are investigating a banner displayed by Crystal Palace fans that referred to the Saudi Arabian-led takeover of Newcastle United. It featured illustrations of a man dressed in traditional Arabic clothing holding a sword with blood on it alongside a checklist of offences by the Saudi Arabia regime. Croydon Metropolitan Police have released a statement on Twitter, stating that “officers are carrying out enquiries” and “any allegations of racist abuse will be taken very seriously”.
Tory says BBC should appoint pro-Brexit figure
A Conservative MP has said that if Laura Kuenssberg steps down as the BBC’s political editor, the corporation should replace her with somebody “much more pro-Brexit”. Julian Knight, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, told The Telegraph: “In front of our committee, [BBC director general] Tim Davie could not name any senior person he had employed during his watch who supported Brexit. Maybe this is a chance to correct that.”
Charles charity accepts fossil fuel donor
Prince Charles’ conservation charity has begun a review of its donation policy after accepting money from the world’s biggest fossil fuel company. The Sunday Times revealed that the Prince’s Foundation receives funding from Saudi Arabian Oil Co, commonly known as Aramco, the kingdom’s state-owned petroleum company. The news comes after Charles urged leaders to do more than “just talk” at Cop26.
Police warn anti-halal MPs
Police have called for increased security measures for MPs who back reforms that could threaten the production of halal and kosher meat. Detectives have issued a private warning to several MPs who support legal changes that would cut the number of animals slaughtered without first being stunned. One MP, who has campaigned on the issue, was visited by police officers who told them: “Be careful what you say publicly on this issue.”