Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 April 2022

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

1

PM rejects calls to resign

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have rejected calls to resign after being fined by police for breaking lockdown rules in June 2020. Both men received fixed penalty notices for attending a birthday gathering at 10 Downing Street. Johnson, who is now the UK’s first serving PM to be sanctioned for breaking the law, said he felt “an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people”. The Guardian said Johnson could “face a further moment of danger” when Sue Gray’s report containing details of how the parties unfolded is published. The report will land as early as next week, said The Telegraph.

2

Biden accuses Putin of genocide

US President Joe Biden has called Vladimir Putin a “dictator” and accused him of “genocide” in Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Biden’s remark as the “true words of a true leader”. After using the word “genocide” in a speech, Biden later told reporters: “I called it genocide because it’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out even the idea of being Ukrainian.” CNN said it was a “dramatic rhetorical escalation in the US view of what is happening on the ground in Ukraine”.

3

Suspect named in US shooting

Authorities in the US said they have identified a person of interest after a gunman wearing a gas mask filled a crowded New York subway carriage with thick black smoke from a canister and opened fire on morning rush-hour passengers on Tuesday. More than 20 people were hurt in the Brooklyn attack, with injured passengers suffering from bullet wounds, smoke inhalation and the physical effects of panic. Frank James, 62, has been named as the person of interest in connection to the shooting.

4

Jobless rate at pre-Covid level

Unemployment fell to its lowest level in almost 50 years in February. The jobless rate sank to 3.8% in the three months to February from 3.9%, matching a rate last seen in late 2019 and one that has not been lower since 1974. However, British people’s earnings shrank by the most since 2013 in February when adjusted for surging inflation. Nye Cominetti, an economist at the Resolution Foundation think tank, told Reuters that “soaring inflation is casting a big shadow over an otherwise buoyant labour market”.

5

Patel was warned about travel chaos

The home secretary was warned a month ago about an impending wave of travel chaos after passport control staff were sent to deal with the Dover migrant crisis. The Telegraph reported that airline bosses told Priti Patel in March that a lack of Border Force workers could cause massive passenger queues at terminals across Britain. The Home Office said it is “mobilising additional staff to help minimise queueing times for passengers” and “will continue to deploy our staff flexibly to manage this demand”.

6

Rise in murders by ex-cons

Murders by former prisoners have soared over the last three years, according to figures from the Ministry of Justice. Some 251 murders were committed by former inmates between 2018 and 2020, the highest level for a three-year period since the government started collecting the data in 2003. The Times added that the number of probation officers leaving the service increased by almost 50% between 2019 and last year, from 221 officers to 328.

7

Inflation surges in US

Inflation reached 8.5% in the US last month, the fastest 12-month pace since 1981. The New York Times said a surge in gas prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had added to “sharp increases coming from the collision of strong demand and stubborn pandemic-related supply shortages”. The paper added that price pressures have been “painful” for American households, especially those that have “lower incomes and devote a big share of their budgets to necessities”.

8

‘Colston Four’ referred to appeal court

The attorney general has referred the case of the four protesters who were cleared of the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue to the court of appeal. Suella Braverman is to ask appeal judges for clarification on whether defendants can cite their human rights as a defence in a case of criminal damage. The Guardian said the “rare move” cannot reverse the not guilty verdicts. In January, the “Colston Four” were cleared of criminal damage despite admitting to helping pull down the statue at an anti-racism protest in Bristol in 2020.

9

Depp v Heard case under way

Lawyers for Johnny Depp described Amber Heard as a liar in opening arguments of the defamation trial between the former spouses. The case related to Heard’s 2018 opinion piece for The Washington Post in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse. Depp has denied any abuse and has sued his ex-wife for $50m (£38m). The actor’s team said Heard is preparing for “the performance of a lifetime”, but her lawyers insisted the case will expose the “real” person behind the “fame” and “pirate costumes”.

10

Health threat of renting revealed

More than one in eight privately rented homes pose a serious threat to people’s health and safety, according to a report by a committee of MPs. The problem costs the NHS about £340m a year, said the public accounts committee, whose findings come as renters’ finances face a record squeeze, with higher rents and energy bill increases combining to pile on more misery to stretched tenants. An estimated 11 million people rent privately in England and the sector has doubled in size during the past two decades, said The Guardian.

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