Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 19 April 2022

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

1

PM ‘to apologise’ for rule breaks

Boris Johnson is expected to apologise to MPs today after being fined for breaking lockdown rules. The PM will make his first statement to Parliament since receiving a fixed penalty notice for attending a birthday bash thrown in his honour in June 2020. Sky News said the statement “will be a spectacle some might argue takes MPs through the looking glass” as Johnson will attempt to take responsibility for what has happened “while also insisting he must get on with the job, rule-breaking or not”.

2

Battle for Donbas ‘has begun’

In a video address late last night, Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that Moscow’s large-scale offensive in the eastern Donbas region has begun. As Russia bombarded cities with rocket and artillery fire, the Ukrainian president said that “no matter how many soldiers are driven there, we will defend ourselves”. The Guardian reported that Russian troops are thought to have captured the east Ukraine town of Kreminna and that Vladimir Putin’s army shot dead people attempting to escape the attack.

3

IS to attack ‘distracted’ West

Islamic State (IS) has declared a new “global offensive” against Europe and Israel, said The Times. The group told its followers to take advantage of the West being distracted as a result of the war in Ukraine and to stage terror attacks while “the crusaders are fighting each other”. In an audio message circulated on Telegram, Abu-Omar al-Muhajir, the group’s new spokesperson, also encouraged militants to retaliate for the death of Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, who was killed in February during a US special forces operation in Syria.

4

Train ticket prices slashed

Ministers will slash the price of a million train tickets in a bid to lure passengers back to the railways. The Times reported that seats on some London to Edinburgh services will fall to £22 and Leeds to York will drop to £2.80. Cardiff to London will be available for £25 and Portsmouth to Penzance from £22. The discounts are designed to ease the cost of living and boost domestic tourism in the aftermath of Covid restrictions. Last month, passenger numbers averaged 75% of previous levels.

5

Influencer jailed in Egypt

A TikTok influencer in Egypt has been sentenced to three years in prison after a court convicted her of human trafficking. Haneen Hossam was accused of exploiting girls for money through video-sharing platforms after she invited female followers to join another video-sharing platform, Likee, where she said they could make money by broadcasting live videos. She denied the charge and human rights activists said she has been prosecuted as part of a crackdown on female social media influencers.

6

NHS urges against DIY

NHS hospitals have urged people to postpone dangerous DIY tasks, as patients complained of 13-hour waits for urgent treatment at A&E departments. NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group asked householders embarking on home improvement projects to “take care to avoid any injuries that could lead to unnecessary trips to A&E”, noted The Telegraph. Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership advised people to “do what they can to prevent themselves becoming unwell”.

7

Downing Street ‘targeted by spyware’

Downing Street was targeted by Pegasus, the sophisticated hacking software that can turn a phone into a remote listening device, on 7 July 2020, according to a new report released by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. The report also claimed that phones connected to the Foreign Office were hacked using Pegasus on at least five occasions between July 2020 and June 2021. Citizen Lab said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was probably behind the No. 10 hack, while the Foreign Office hacks “were related to Pegasus operators linked to the UAE, India, Cyprus and Jordan”, said the i news site. 

8

Wiggins was groomed at 13

Bradley Wiggins has revealed that he was sexually groomed by a cycling coach when he was 13 years old. Speaking to Men’s Health, the first British champion of the Tour de France and winner of five Olympic gold medals, said: “I was groomed by a coach when I was younger, I was about 13, and I never fully accepted that.” The 41-year-old added that his stepfather “was quite violent” so he didn’t think he could tell him about the abuse. Wiggins’s revelation was made in an interview with Men’s Health columnist Alastair Campbell, formerly Tony Blair’s spokesperson.

9

Queen ‘shut away’ after Philip funeral

The Queen returned to Windsor Castle and shut herself alone in her sitting room following Prince Philip’s funeral, reported The Telegraph. In an updated edition of her memoir, Angela Kelly, the Queen’s dressmaker and close confidante, recalled: “I helped her off with her coat and hat and no words were spoken. The Queen then walked to her sitting room, closed the door behind her, and she was alone with her own thoughts.” The monarch had been forced to sit apart from other members of the Royal family during the service at St George’s Chapel in April 2021 due to lockdown rules.

10

Ronaldo announces baby’s death

The football star Cristiano Ronaldo and his partner Georgina Rodriguez have announced the death of their baby boy, saying it is the “greatest pain that any parents can feel”. The Portuguese Manchester United forward, 37, and Rodriguez, 28, were expecting twins. Their baby girl survived, and they said her birth “gives us the strength to live this moment with some hope and happiness”. Manchester United’s Instagram account posted: “Your pain is our pain. Sending love and strength to you and the family at this time.”

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