Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 February 2022

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

1

PM ‘to deny wrongdoing’

Boris Johnson is expected to deny allegations that he broke lockdown laws and tell the Met police that his presence at Downing Street gatherings was simply part of the working day, said The Guardian. The PM has until Friday to respond to a questionnaire sent by the Met that may lead the force to issue him with a fixed penalty notice. No. 10 is not planning to publish Johnson’s defence. Scotland Yard is expected to reveal the number of government staff members fined for having attended lockdown-busting parties but not provide their names, reported The Independent.

2

‘Still hope’ for Ukraine solution

The US and UK are still hoping for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. In a 40-minute call, Joe Biden and Boris Johnson agreed that there remains a “crucial window” for diplomacy and for Moscow to step back from its threats towards Ukraine, said a Downing Street statement. In a meeting with the Kremlin on Monday, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister told Vladimir Putin that “our possibilities are far from being exhausted”, suggesting he believes there is still room for dialogue between Russia and the West.

3

Fuel prices at record highs

Petrol prices have hit record highs as the cost-of-living crisis worsens, said The Times. The average cost of petrol rose to 148.02p per litre on Sunday, above the previous high of 147.72p last November. The AA said that diesel also hit a new high, at 151.57p per litre. Analysts believe that prices will continue to rise with records broken almost daily, said The Times. The increases have been caused by a rebound in global demand as the pandemic eases, combined with cuts in production.

4

Andrew requests Giuffre image

Prince Andrew’s lawyers have asked for access to the original photo of the Duke of York and his accuser Virginia Giuffre. According to the i newspaper, the Duke of York’s legal team hopes to use a photographic expert to study the item in a bid to discount it as credible evidence. Giuffre said the photo, thought to have been taken in 2001 in Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home, was from the night she was first forced to have sex with Prince Andrew, aged 17. The Duke of York denies all the allegations against him.

5

Trump accounting firm cuts ties

Donald Trump’s accounting firm has cut ties with the former president, declaring it can no longer stand behind the decade of annual financial statements it prepared for his New York-based real estate business, said The New York Times. Court documents filed as part of a fraud investigation show that Mazars told the Trump Organisation that its financial statements from 2011-2020 should no longer be relied on. Mazars did not conclude that the statements contained material discrepancies, but the firm’s decision comes amid criminal and civil investigations into whether Trump illegally inflated the value of his assets. 

6

Post Office scandal ‘wrecked lives’

The Post Office scandal was “the worst miscarriage of justice in recent British legal history” that wrecked lives and tore families apart, a public inquiry has been told. Three sub-postmasters shared evidence on Monday, with the inquiry expected to run for the rest of 2022. Dozens more witnesses will take the stand over the coming weeks to share how they were personally affected by a flawed computer system which led them to be blamed for shortfalls running into thousands of pounds.

7

Trudeau invokes emergency powers

Justin Trudeau has temporarily invoked the Emergencies Act to crack down on anti-vaccine mandate protests. The Canadian PM said the unprecedented step would be “time-limited, geographically targeted, as well as reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address” and would not involve military deployment. Under the new powers, protesters may see their personal and corporate accounts frozen by their banks, as well as their vehicle insurance suspended.

8

Anti-drug officer ‘took drugs’

A senior Met police commander, who wrote his force’s current drug strategy and oversaw the dismissal of two officers for drug misuse, is facing the sack for drug-taking, said The Guardian. A gross misconduct hearing was told that Commander Julian Bennett took cannabis, LSD and magic mushrooms while on holiday in France sometime between February 2019 and July 2020. He is accused of refusing to provide a drug sample in July 2020. The hearing has been adjourned until May.

9

US drought worst for 1,200 years

The megadrought gripping the US West is the worst the region has seen for centuries, scientists have warned. According to a study published in the Nature Climate Change journal, the period from 2000 to 2021 was the driest in 1,200 years. The study described 2021’s drought as “exceptional” and said all indications are pointing to the extreme conditions continuing through 2022, CNN reported. The human-caused climate crisis has made the US West’s drought 72% worse, the scientists said. 

10

Rooney blow in ‘Wagatha’ battle

Coleen Rooney has been refused permission to bring a High Court claim against Rebekah Vardy’s agent in the latest chapter of the legal battle between the footballers’ wives. Rooney was attempting to bring a claim against Caroline Watt for misuse of private information as part of her case against Vardy. The so-called “Wagatha Christie” row broke out in 2019 after Rooney accused Vardy of leaking stories about her private life to the press. Vardy denies the accusations and is suing Rooney for libel.

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