Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 April 2022

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

1

Covid at all-time high in UK

Covid infections have reached an all-time high across the UK, with almost five million people – one in 13 of the population – estimated to have the virus. The data was released as the government ended free rapid tests for most people in England. Experts are worried, with Prof Devi Sridhar, of the University of Edinburgh, saying: “We’re still having a couple of hundred people die every day and letting testing go – I’m quite concerned about that.”

2

Russia ‘pulling out of north’

Ukraine’s president said a withdrawal of Russian troops is “slow but noticeable” in the north of the country. However, added Volodymyr Zelensky, “hard battles lie ahead” in the east of the country around Donbas and Kharkiv. He also claimed that retreating Russian forces were creating “a complete disaster” outside the capital Kyiv by leaving mines across “the whole territory”. Russian missiles hit two cities in central Ukraine early on Saturday.

3

Princesses dragged into fraud case

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie have become entangled in the multi-million pound fraud case that has enmeshed their father, reported The Telegraph. A £750,000 sum transferred into the Duke of York’s account on the orders of an alleged Turkish conman was described to bankers as a wedding gift for his eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice. Princess Eugenie was also paid £25,0000 on the instructions of Selman Turk, a former Goldman Sachs banker accused of stealing £40m from Nebahat Evyap Isbilen, an elderly Turkish millionairess.

4

Yemen truce to begin today

The United Nations said a two-month truce has been agreed by warring parties in Yemen. The deal between the Saudi-led coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels is scheduled to come into effect this afternoon. It is the first nationwide truce agreed since 2016, in a war that has killed an estimated 400,000 people. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said he hoped the truce would pave the way toward peace, but added: “We know that these agreements are always fragile.”

5

Maxwell denied new trial

Ghislaine Maxwell’s bid for a new trial has been denied, the judge in her Manhattan federal court sex-trafficking case has announced. The disgraced socialite repeatedly requested a new trial after a juror in the case failed to disclose childhood sexual abuse during jury selection. Maxwell was found guilty in December on sex-trafficking and related charges. She is due to be sentenced on June 28, when she faces up to 65 years in prison.

6

Israel kills three in West Bank

Israeli security forces have killed three Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli police said the men were armed and were “killed in a shootout,” in an incident before dawn on Saturday. “This is a terrorist cell that has been involved in terrorist activity against security forces recently, and was apparently on its way to another attack,” the police claimed. Over the past week there have been a string of deadly attacks in Israel. Israeli forces also shot dead three Palestinians in the West Bank on Thursday.

7

Racism rife at allotments

Racism and bullying thrive at allotments, a charity has warned. The Telegraph reported that cash-strapped councils have placed more allotments under self-management, which means that allotment associations are tasked with running and policing their own plots, leading to “petty disputes” and “physical confrontations and evictions”. A black British woman in Kent said that ethnic minority people were excluded from prime plots, even when they were empty. The South West Counties Allotment Association is calling for a national body to resolve disputes.

8

Will Smith quits Academy

Will Smith has resigned from Hollywood’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony. Explaining his decision, he said that he “betrayed the trust of the Academy” and will accept “any further consequences”. Rock has briefly alluded to the incident at a comedy show. “I’m still processing what happened, so at some point I’ll talk about that s**t,” he told the audience. “It’ll be serious. It’ll be funny, but right now I’m going to tell some jokes.”

9

Patel took donation from oil giant

Priti Patel has accepted a £100,000 donation from a company run by one of the world’s top oil traders, noted The Guardian. A fresh entry in the home secretary’s members’ interests register shows that she received the funds from Andurand Ventures Ltd, run by Pierre Andurand. The hedge fund manager made headlines when he made a fortune from successfully predicting fluctuating oil prices. Tessa Khan, director of the campaign group Uplift, said: “That the Conservative party is accepting donations from people profiting from the energy crisis is sadly unsurprising.”

10

England to face Iran at World Cup

England could face Scotland or Wales at the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 after the draw for the tournament’s finals was made on Friday. After the remaining European play-off path is completed, either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine will join England, the USA and Iran in Group B. The World Cup takes place between 21 November and 18 December. The presence of Iran in England’s group prompted The Sun to declare: “It’s Iranian men, hallelujah.”

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