Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 14 January 2022

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

1

More No. 10 parties exposed

Downing Street staff drank alcohol into the early hours at two events the night before Prince Philip’s socially distanced funeral, The Telegraph has revealed. On the evening of Friday 16 April 16 last year, as Britain was in a period of public mourning and under lockdown rules which barred indoor mixing, two parties were held in which, say sources, guests drank “excessive” alcohol and danced. Meanwhile, The Times reported that Sue Gray’s investigation into lockdown parties is expected to say there’s not enough evidence of criminality for the issue to be referred to police.

2

Prince Andrew stripped of titles

The Queen has forced Prince Andrew to give up all military titles and patronages and to drop his HRH title. Following news that he will face a civil trial over allegations of sexual abuse, the prince was summoned to Windsor Castle for a 45-minute meeting with the Queen. It is understood that the decision was taken after discussions among members of the royal family. It came after 152 Royal Navy, British Army and RAF veterans wrote to the Queen to demand that Andrew be removed from the honorary military positions.

3

Omicron wave ‘has peaked’

Official data suggests Britain’s omicron wave has peaked, with the first week-on-week drop in cases since October. Data published by the UK Health Security Agency on Thursday revealed that cases dropped in the first week of January - and cases reported in the past seven days are almost 25% lower than in the seven days before. Professor Tim Spector, the lead scientist on the ZOE symptom tracker app, run by King’s College London, said: “Data suggest the omicron wave has peaked and cases are starting to come down in almost all regions of the UK.”

4

Sedition charges in Capitol probe

The US Justice Department has announced the first sedition charges related to the Capitol invasion, in what the CNN described as a “watershed moment in the year-long investigation”. The indictment, which centres on the Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group, and its leader Stewart Rhodes, raises the stakes significantly because it counters the argument that the attack on the Capitol was not an insurrection but merely a riot.

5

Mercy killing rules reviewed

Prosecutors plan to relax their stance on mercy killings so that people involved with them are less likely to face criminal charges. The Times reported that where a suspect is “wholly motivated by compassion” or where the person had reached a “voluntary, settled and informed decision to end their life”, prosecutors will be told that the case may not be in the public interest. The Christian Legal Centre said the proposals “could cause great harm to individuals and society”.

6

Teacher killed during jog

A primary school teacher was beaten to death while she was jogging along a popular canal bank in Ireland. Ashling Murphy, 23, was killed on Wednesday afternoon along the banks of the Grand Canal at Cappincur in Tullamore, County Offaly. The Irish Times reported that a man held by police in connection with the death has been released from custody and is no longer a suspect.

7

Beijing denies UK interference

China has denied interfering in UK politics following claims from the MI5 that an agent of the country had infiltrated Parliament. The security service alleged that Christine Ching Kui Lee “established links” for the Chinese Communist Party with current and aspiring MPs. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the allegations were “deeply concerning”, but the Chinese Embassy in London accused MI5 of “smearing and intimidation” against the UK’s Chinese community.

8

Londoners warned about pollution

Experts have advised Londoners should avoid strenuous physical activity today due to “very high” levels of pollution. High pressure covering western Europe has led to poor air quality, because emissions from vehicles and other pollutants are not being blown away as they usually would be. Older people and those with lung or heart problems should avoid strenuous exercise, according to the government’s official advice, while people with asthma may need to use inhalers more often.

9

Council accused over sign protest

A mother has compared her local council to the Soviet Union after she was threatened with legal action over a protest sign attached to the gate of her front garden. Lambeth Council told Lyudmila Grygoryeva to take down the anti-road closures placard from her home in Camberwell, south London, or face “formal action” which could lead to a £2,500 fine. A spokesman for the council said: “We have a duty, on behalf of all residents, to respond to queries about all unauthorised signs.”

10

Australia equals hottest day

Temperatures in Onslow, a coastal town in Western Australia, reached 50.7C on Thursday, matching the national record set more than 60 years ago. Other towns in the Pilbara region of Western Australia also surpassed 50C on Thursday to record some of the highest temperatures Australia has even seen. Meteorologists said that “over the next few months there is a high chance that temperatures on a day-to-day basis will be above average”.

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