Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 March 2022

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

1

Russia ‘scaling back invasion’

Moscow has indicated that it plans to scale back its invasion of Ukraine as an army chief said its “main goal” was now the “liberation” of the Donbas region on the eastern border with Russia. Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoy said the “main objectives of the first stage of the operation have generally been accomplished”. However, Vladimir Putin has previously said he wanted to take Kyiv, the capital, and overthrow Volodymyr Zelensky’s government. Zelensky said Ukraine has inflicted “powerful blows” and “significant losses” on the Russians.

2

Sunak’s wife ‘got £12m dividend’

Rishi Sunak’s wife has received almost £12m in dividends in the past year from a business that has kept its Russian office open despite the war in Ukraine, a report has claimed. Akshata Murty owns 0.93% or 39m shares in Infosys, the Indian tech giant founded by her billionaire father, according to Bloomberg data. Infosys made two dividend payments that would have netted her £11.6m before tax, analysis by The Telegraph has found.

3

Foo Fighters drummer dies

Taylor Hawkins, the drummer for the US rock band Foo Fighters, has died at the age of 50. “His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever,” the band said in a statement. Paying tribute, Ozzy Osbourne said Hawkins was “truly a great person and an amazing musician,” while Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello wrote on Twitter: “God bless you Taylor Hawkins. I loved your spirit and your unstoppable rock power.” The cause of his death is not known.

4

P&O ferry detained in port

A P&O ferry has been detained after being deemed “unfit to sail” just days after hundreds of UK staff were abruptly sacked. The European Causeway vessel has been held in a Northern Ireland port due to “failures on crew familiarisation, vessel documentation and crew training,” said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The news comes after Boris Johnson supported the growing calls for P&O chief Peter Hebblethwaite to step down.

5

Rowling takes Putin to task

JK Rowling has criticised Vladimir Putin, after the Russian president mentioned her in a wide-ranging speech that saw him criticise “cancel culture”. Putin compared recent criticism of the Harry Potter author for her stance on transgender issues to that faced by pro-war Russian composers and writers. Responding to the comment, Rowling said Russia was “slaughtering civilians”. The author also hit out at the Russian president for “jailing and poisoning critics”.

6

Petrol cut not being passed on

Petrol stations have failed to pass on the fuel duty savings announced by the chancellor in his spring statement, reported Sky News. According to data from the AA, petrol prices have fallen just 2.71p, and diesel was down 1.59p, despite Rishi Sunak saying on Wednesday a 5p fuel cut would come into force immediately. The RAC has criticised the chancellor, describing the cut as “a drop in the ocean” as it will “only take prices back to where they were just over a week ago”.

7

Saudi GP goes ahead after attack

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is expected to go ahead as planned despite a missile attack near the track in Jeddah. Following lengthy meetings overnight, the drivers have agreed to race. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack on an oil depot about nine miles from the track, according to the Associated Press. The rebels have been embroiled in war with a Saudi-led coalition for seven years.

8

Life terms for homophobic murder

Two men and a teenage girl have been given life sentences for the homophobic murder of a man in a Cardiff park. Jason Edwards, 26 and Lee Strickland, 36, will serve minimum terms of 32 years, while 17-year-old Dionne Timms-Williams will be detained for at least 17 years for the killing of Dr Gary Jenkins. The consultant psychiatrist was violently kicked and punched to death in the early hours of July 20 2021.

9

England team shocked by Qatar

The footballer Jordan Henderson has described Qatar’s record of human rights abuses as “shocking, disappointing and horrendous” after he and his England team-mates were given a detailed briefing on the issue. The Guardian said it seems certain that Gareth Southgate’s squad will issue a “collective message” on Qatar’s track record on the rights of women, the LGBTQ+ community and migrant workers.

 

10

Mum to sue over Olympic pool gas

A pregnant woman injured by poisonous gas at the aquatics centre at London’s Olympic park is planning to sue the company that runs the pool. Tess Riley, who fled the pool with her husband, Thom, and their two-year-old daughter Ruby, said they “vomited our guts out” after the incident. Riley said she has been left with the trauma of the “apocalyptic scenes” and is extremely concerned over any potential impact the chlorine gas has had on her 15-week pregnancy. An investigation into the incident is underway.

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