Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 27 Apr 2019

1. ‘New Windrush’ claims as Home Office probed over tests

The Home Office is being investigated over claims of cheating in English language tests in a development that MPs warn could lead to a scandal “bigger than Windrush”. The National Audit Office is exploring the Home Office’s decision to accuse about 34,000 international students of cheating in the tests. It is also scrutinising the subsequent cancellation or curtailment of their visas.

2. Bodies found after gun battle with Sri Lanka bomb suspects

The bodies of 15 people have been discovered at the site of a gun battle between soldiers and suspects linked to the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, a military spokesman has revealed. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has cancelled Sunday Masses until further notice following the attacks last weekend. The Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Ranjith, said he felt “betrayed” by the lack of action over warnings.

3. Buffett is ready to invest in Britain regardless of Brexit

Warren Buffett has said he is “ready to buy something in the UK tomorrow”, a move that the Financial Times describes as “a big endorsement to Britain ahead of Brexit”. The sage of Omaha says he is willing to invest in Britain — regardless of whether the UK leaves the European Union. Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate Buffett runs, has had a mixed record in the UK.

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4. Eton College makes huge rates savings through charitable status

Eton College makes multi-million pound savings because as a “charity” it gets a huge discount on its rates bill, according to The Mirror. The public school gets 80% cut off its rates liability because it has charitable status, while most state schools must pay 100%. Analysis by rates experts Altus Group found the perk will reduce the private school’s bill this year from £831,600 to £166,320.

5. Donald Trump tells Americans to get measles vaccinations

Donald Trump has told Americans to “get their shots” as cases of measles spread across the US. Speaking to reporters outside the White House, the US President said: “The vaccinations are so important.” Nearly 700 cases have been reported across 22 states, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the past, Trump has controversially linked vaccines and autism.

6. Pharmacies slammed over record on addictive opiates

Online pharmacies are failing to carry out ID checks and are deploying inappropriate marketing tactics to sell addictive opiate drugs, according to The Guardian. At least two major online pharmacies are emailing customers, claiming stocks are running out or telling them their “limit” has been removed and they can now buy more codeine tablets. Ash Soni, the president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said the allegations are “appalling”.

7. Former tax inspector investigated over avoidance

A former HMRC investigator is being investigated over tax avoidance. Phil Manley, who worked for the taxman for 15 years, has been named as being involved with a scheme in Cyprus which is designed to help freelancers avoid paying the loan charge. Commenting on the scheme, HMRC told The Times: “If something looks too good to be true, then it almost certainly is.”

8. Heathrow to launch facial recognition scheme this summer

Passengers travelling from Heathrow will soon be able to check in and board their flight without showing a passport or boarding pass. Permanent facial recognition technology at Britain’s biggest airport will be launched this summer. The £50m project is intended to reduce time spent passing through by up to a third. Gatwick hopes to run a second trial of facial recognition technology in May.

9. US may launch giraffe protection as numbers fall

The US is considering introducing the world’s first laws offering protection for giraffes as numbers sink amid a boom in the trade of their body parts. Conservationists are warning of the species’ “silent extinction” after the giraffe population fell by around 40% over four decades. The animal’s hide is used as leather for boots, jackets, furniture and Bible covers.

10. Elon Musk agrees to have social media posts pre-approved

Tesla boss Elon Musk has agreed to have his social media posts regarding the car maker pre-approved by an expert. Settling a dispute over his tweeting, the controversial entrepreneur made the agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had alleged that he violated a previous settlement requiring his tweets to be approved by a lawyer.

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