Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 November 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Vote sparks ‘sleaze’ allegations
Labour said the Conservatives are “wallowing in sleaze” after the government backed a vote to change the system for disciplining MPs. The move, which prevented the suspension of former Conservative minister Owen Paterson, revealed “the lengths to which a venal political class will go to protect its own”, said the Daily Mail.
NHS jabs ‘required from April’
NHS workers will not be forced to have a Covid jab this winter under plans being considered by ministers. Although compulsory vaccinations for NHS staff are expected to be announced next week, the rules reportedly will not be enforced until March 31. Earlier this week NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson called for a delay to mandatory vaccines so the NHS could get through a “very, very difficult winter” without losing staff.
Suspect officers ‘allowed on patrol’
A whistleblower has claimed that Metropolitan Police officers under investigation for assault and harassment have been allowed to go on patrol because of staff shortages. One officer, under suspicion of sexually harassing a woman in a shop and already on bail for a non-molestation order, was allowed to go out on patrol on the condition that he wore a body camera. A former internal investigations officer said his inquiries into misconduct by officers faced interference from within the force.
Arrests after Belfast unrest
Two children were arrested amid disorder in Belfast following a rally against the Brexit protocol. The boys, aged 12 and 15, were arrested in the loyalist Shankill Road area on suspicion of riotous behaviour. The Sinn Fein assembly member Pat Sheehan said the “so-called anti-protocol protest” had been organised “with the sole intention of heightening tensions and causing trouble”.
Beijing ‘muffling’ sex abuse allegation
A Chinese tennis star’s “explosive” allegation of sexual abuse against a former state leader has been “muffled by blanket censorship”, reported CNN. Peng Shuai, 35, a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, has accused the retired vice premier Zhang Gaoli of pressuring her into having sex. The authorities in China have moved to wipe out any online mention of the politically sensitive scandal.
Social media ‘inherently damaging’
The head of Ofcom has warned that the business models of social media companies are inherently harmful to users. Dame Melanie Dawes, chief executive of the media watchdog, told an industry conference that attempts at self-regulation have not worked. “The platforms are already moderating content but they are doing it behind closed doors and that has implications for freedom of expression and freedom of speech,” she said.
PM jets back from Cop26
Boris Johnson flew back from Glasgow by private jet for dinner with a climate change sceptic at a men-only private members club, The Mirror reported. Hours before flying to meet Lord Moore, Johnson had told world leaders to stop “quilting the earth in an invisible and suffocating blanket of CO2”. Anneliese Dodds, Labour Party chair, said: “This is staggering hypocrisy from the prime minister.”
Kabul bombing ‘honest mistake’
A US drone strike in Kabul that killed ten Afghan civilians was a tragic mistake but did not violate any laws, the Pentagon has concluded. Three adults, including a man who worked for a US aid group, and seven children were killed in the 29 August attack. Lieutenant General Sami Said, who investigated the strike, said “it was an honest mistake but “not criminal conduct, random conduct, negligence”.
WHO approves Indian Covid jab
The World Health Organization has granted approval for Indian drugmaker Bharat Biotech’s home-grown Covid vaccine for emergency use. Writing on Twitter, the WHO said that its technical advisory group had ruled that benefits of the shot, known as Covaxin, significantly outweighed the risks. The decision is expected to pave the way for millions of Indians who have received the jab to travel outside the country.
Ballance ‘regrets’ racist language
The cricketer Gary Ballance has said he regrets using racist language towards his former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq. The former England international said “it has been reported that I used a racial slur and, as I told the independent enquiry, I accept that I did so and I regret doing so”. He said Rafiq was his “best mate in cricket” and that he “cared deeply for him”, adding that “on the pitch we supported each other greatly”.