Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 5 November 2021

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

1

Opposition seeks ‘anti-sleaze’ pact

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens are considering standing aside and backing an independent “anti-sleaze” candidate in the by-election prompted by Owen Paterson’s resignation. The three parties held talks yesterday after the Conservative MP resigned and the government performed a U-turn on parliamentary regulation. Keir Starmer called on Boris Johnson to apologise for the “chaotic” past 24 hours.

2

Ventilation ad to fight Covid

Doctors and scientists are backing a government campaign encouraging people to open their windows for 10 minutes every hour when they are socialising at home in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. A short film will urge people to “stop Covid-19 hanging around” by showing how the coronavirus can build up in an enclosed space. Dr Thomas Waite, a deputy chief medical officer for England, said it is “crucial that we don’t overlook the value of ventilation”.

3

Review over corpse abuser

A hospital worker who thought he had got away with the murders of two women 34 years ago faces spending the rest of his life in jail after being trapped by new DNA techniques. David Fuller, 67, pleaded guilty to murdering Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in Tunbridge Wells in 1987. The double murderer is also accused of sexually abused at least 100 corpses in hospitals where he worked.

4

Bank defends rates decision

Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, said he is not an “unreliable boyfriend” after wrongfooting financial markets by leaving interest rates unchanged. After weeks in which market expectations of a rise were stoked by comments and speeches from policymakers, the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee voted 7-2 to keep rates at an all-time low of 0.1%. The Telegraph said the Bank “has failed a test of political independence on interest rates”.

5

Christmas shopping starts early

Marks & Spencer said customers are shopping early for Christmas, with nearly half expecting to have found gifts by the end of November. A spokesperson for John Lewis Group, which includes Waitrose, said customers were “making plans and getting ready earlier than normal”. The retail expert Steve Dresser said people were “spooked about shortages of stock” and were also budgeting as prices rose.

6

UK snaps up anti-Covid pill

The first pill designed to treat Covid has been approved by the UK medicines regulator. Hundreds of thousands of the most at-risk patients are set to receive the antiviral drug molnupiravir. It has been shown to halve hospital admissions among the most vulnerable patients, as long as it is administered soon after symptoms appear. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the treatment was a “game-changer”.

7

Rape charges down as cases soar

Police forces in England and Wales recorded 61,158 rapes in the year to June – up 10% on the previous 12 months and the highest number on record. The number of cases resulting in a charge fell to the joint lowest, according to the Office for National Statistics. Only 1.4%, equivalent to one in 70 rape cases, led to a suspect being charged or summonsed.

8

Suspended sentence for ‘acid’ MP

An MP who made threatening phone calls to a woman has been given a suspended sentence. Claudia Webbe, former Labour MP for Leicester East who is now independent, was convicted of one charge of harassment after she made several calls over two years and threatened the woman with acid. She was handed a ten-week sentence, suspended for two years. A court heard she launched campaign of harassment borne out of jealousy.

9

Vaughan denies racism claim

The former England captain Michael Vaughan said he was named in a report compiled by Yorkshire’s Azeem Rafiq but “totally denies any allegation of racism”. The cricketer said the report accused him of telling a group of Asian players, including Rafiq: “Too many of you lot, we need to do something about it”. Vaughan said he “completely and categorically denies” that he said it. Yorkshire has been suspended from hosting England matches following Rafiq’s report.

10

‘Trooper’ Blair dies at 92

The actor, dancer and television presenter Lionel Blair has died at the age of 92, his agent has announced. His career spanned seven decades, encompassing a dance-off with Sammy Davis Jr at the 1961 Royal Variety Performance and a long stint as a team captain on the comedy game show Give Us a Clue. Julian Clary said Blair was “a real showbiz trooper if ever there was” and broadcaster Danny Baker described him as a “true chum, an entertainer beyond compare”. Gyles Brandreth said Blair was a “powerhouse of positivity”.

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