Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 28 May 2022

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

1

Survey finds PM would lose seat

Boris Johnson would lose his seat if an election were held tomorrow and his party would face annihilation in the red wall constituencies, according to a study. The PM would be the highest-profile casualty on a night of Tory losses with Burnley, Leigh, and Stoke-on-Trent North among the seats likely to return to Labour. The Times said the study, which used the same model that predicted the outcome of the general election, is “likely to prompt further angst from backbenchers” amid  renewed tension over the lockdown parties scandal. The Conservative MP Sir Bob Neill has called on Johnson to quit.

2

‘No excuse’ for Texas response

The top safety officer said police made the “wrong decision” when they failed to storm a primary school classroom in Texas, as a gunman killed 19 children inside. Officers delayed entering because they did not believe it was still an “active shooter” situation, said Steven McCraw, but pupils inside made multiple calls begging for police to come. McCraw said “there’s no excuse” for officers not trying to break into an elementary school. “If I thought it would help, I would apologise,” he said.

3

Jury out in Depp/Heard case

Amber Heard exploited the MeToo movement to make false claims that she was abused by Johnny Depp, his lawyers said on Friday. As the closely watched, six-week defamation trial drew to a close, Depp’s lawyers labelled Heard as the real “abuser” in the relationship and said she “ruined his life”. However, Heard’s team said that “America’s favourite pirate” was at times a “rage-filled monster” and that she only needed to prove that Depp had abused her at least once to win the case. Jury deliberations in the high-profile defamation battle have begun.

4

PM changes code ‘to save skin’

Boris Johnson amended the ministerial code to help “save his skin,” said Labour. With a new “partygate” inquiry that could publish more photos and subject him to a public grilling by MPs expected, the PM changed the rules on Friday so ministers will not always be expected to resign for breaching the code of conduct. He also rewrote the foreword to the ministerial code, removing all references to honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability. Labour and the Liberal Democrats said Johnson rigged the system to “get himself off the hook”.

5

Cannabis dealer avoids jail

Hundreds of cancer patients have joined forces to help a cannabis dealer avoid jail after telling a judge how he supplied the drug to relieve their pain. Andrew Baines was facing a lengthy prison sentence after police found a kilogram of cannabis and more than 30 plants at his home. However, when it became clear he was only selling cannabis oils to terminal cancer patients it was decided to prosecute only for the “cultivation or production of up to seven plants”. Baines pleaded guilty and was handed a six-month community order with no costs to pay.

 

6

Met officer charged with beach rape

A serving Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with raping a woman on a beach in Brighton. Sgt Laurence Knight, 33, is accused of carrying out the attack when he was off duty last summer. Sussex Police said he is due to appear before Brighton Magistrates’ Court on June 23. Chief Superintendent Pete Gardner, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “We know people will rightly be concerned to hear about this very serious charge against a serving police officer.”

7

EasyJet cancels more flights

EasyJet says it will cancel more than 200 flights over the next 10 days. The budget carrier said that about 24 flights from London Gatwick would be affected each day between now and 6 June. In a statement, it said the cancellations were necessary “to provide reliable services over this busy period”. The news comes after a software failure forced EasyJet to cancel about 200 flights on Thursday. A woman described how her family missed her father’s funeral because their flight was cancelled by EasyJet just minutes before departure.

8

Reporter ‘intentionally shot by Israeli soldier’

A Palestinian investigation has found that Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Aqla was intentionally shot dead by an Israeli soldier. The Palestinian attorney general said “the only shooting was by the occupation forces, with the aim of killing” but the Israeli defence minister insisted the report’s finding was “a blatant lie”. The 51-year-old Palestinian-American journalist was shot dead while reporting on an Israeli military operation in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, on 11 May.

9

Monkeypox cases could be just the start

The World Health Organization has warned that 200 monkeypox cases found in recent weeks outside countries where the virus usually circulates could be just the “peak of the iceberg”. Sylvie Briand, WHO’s epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief, said: “We don’t know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg [or] if there are many more cases that are undetected in communities.” She said that “we are still at the very, very beginning of this event” but added that “this is not a disease the general public should be worried about”.

10

Red Army head released in Japan

One of the founders of the Japanese Red Army militant group has been freed from prison after serving 20 years for her part in a 1974 embassy siege. Fusako Shigenobu had evaded arrest for decades before being arrested in 2000. The BBC said the 76-year-old’s “once-feared group” had aimed to “provoke a global socialist revolution through high-profile terror acts” such as hostage-takings and hijackings, as well as a deadly attack on an Israeli airport. As she left jail, she apologised for causing “damage to innocent people”.

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