Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 29 March 2022

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

1

‘Partygate’ fines to be issued

The first fines issued as a result of lockdown breaches on Downing Street are expected to be handed out imminently, it has emerged. Scotland Yard has concluded that laws were broken at the heart of government and it is understood the Metropolitan Police will issue around 20 fines related to the most straightforward cases, according to Sky News. Others are expected to follow as more than 100 people were handed questionnaires by the Met as part of the investigation named Operation Hillman. The probe into 12 events began in January. Boris Johnson is known to have attended at least three of the gatherings.

2

Russia-Ukraine talks underway

Delegations from Russia and Ukraine have been arriving in Istanbul for the first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks. Ukraine says its top priority in the talks is to negotiate a ceasefire, however, the BBC said that “hopes of progress are slim, with both sides playing down the chances of a breakthrough”. Despite the pessimism surrounding the negotiations, The Guardian suggested that the fact that the two sides are meeting at all is seen as “a sign the dynamics may be shifting”.

3

Abramovich ‘poisoned by hardliners’

Roman Abramovich suffered symptoms of a suspected poisoning during peace talks on the Ukraine-Belarus border earlier this month, sources close to the oligarch have claimed. The billionaire Chelsea FC owner reportedly suffered sore eyes and peeling skin, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that the alleged poisoning was orchestrated by “hardliners in Moscow” who wanted to sabotage the talks. Ukrainian MP Rustem Umerov and another negotiator from his country were also affected.

4

Millions at risk of deportation

Academics have warned that more than two million EU citizens and their families hold a temporary immigration status that could see them lose their UK residence rights and be removed from the country. Oxford University’s Migration Observatory stated that many of those who have “pre-settled status”, which requires people to reapply within five years or become irregular migrants, are likely to be unaware of their fragility of their situation.

5

Call to end ‘innocence tax’

Innocent people bankrupted by legal battles should be compensated by the state, Her Majesty’s chief inspector of police has said. Speaking to The Telegraph before he steps down this week, Tom Winsor called on the government to scrap the decade-old curb on the reimbursement of legal expenses for people acquitted of serious offences. He said that if you are wrongly accused of a crime, “you could have lost all your savings, you could have lost your house” by the time you are found not guilty. He added: “The acquittal of the innocent is not given the appropriate attention, the resources and value by the state.”

6

School-run mum admits dangerous driving

A mother who used her Range Rover to nudge Insulate Britain activists out of the road is facing a ban after admitting dangerous driving. Sherrilyn Speid, 35, from Essex, was on the school-run with her 11-year-old son when the demonstrators sat down in the road at junction 31 of the London orbital near the Dartford Crossing. When they refused to move to let her pass, she used her car to push two female activists. The prosecutor at her trial said: “Clearly this was an incident where there was a risk, even if no injury was caused.”

7

Starmer dodges trans question

Keir Starmer has refused to answer the question of whether a woman can have a penis. Appearing on Nick Ferrari’s LBC phone-in show, the Labour leader was asked multiple times whether or not “a woman can have a penis”. He replied: “I don’t think that discussing this issue in this way helps anyone in the long run.” Boris Johnson yesterday reaffirmed his stance that “the basic facts of biology” were fundamental but that people wanting to change their legal sex should be treated with “generosity and respect”.

8

Sunak plays down energy hopes

Rishi Sunak has said he will offer people more support with their energy bills only “if necessary”, citing the “volatility” of energy prices. The energy price cap will rise from about £1,300 per year to nearly £2,000 on Friday, while forecasts have suggested that it will rise to £2,800 in October. The chancellor said: “It is very difficult to sit here today and speculate on what happens to energy prices, the biggest impact on living standards, in the autumn.”

9

Dog walker jailed over deaths

A professional dog walker has been jailed after her client’s pets died in the back of a car during a heatwave. Christine Carpenter left two spaniels in the boot of her car, causing the dogs to die “within minutes” as temperatures reached 29C outside, a court heard. When they were examined by a vet, their internal temperatures were found to be the maximum the thermometer could reach. The judge described the crime as “a gross breach of trust”.

10

Smith apologises to Rock

Will Smith has apologised to Chris Rock after he slapped him at the Oscars. Describing his behaviour as “unacceptable and inexcusable”, the actor said: “I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong.” The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has condemned Smith over the incident, in which the star slapped Rock on stage after the comic made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

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