Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 25 May 2020

1. Cummings could face police probe over Barnard Castle visit

Dominic Cummings could face police investigation under health laws over a claim that he breached self-isolation rules, after a retired teacher made a complaint to the police, reporting that he saw Cummings and his family on 12 April walking in the town of Barnard Castle before getting into a car. Boris Johnson defended his special adviser yesterday, saying he “followed the instincts of every father and every parent”.

2. Virtual hearings as courts face backlog of 40,000 criminal cases

The Criminal Bar Association has warned that the justice system in England and Wales is facing a backlog of 40,000 criminal cases. Virtual hearings are being used in the higher civil courts but The Guardian says the practise is already raising concern about fairness. Labour’s shadow justice secretary, David Lammy, told the Guardian: “We are heading for a very serious backlog which this generation of lawyers has never seen.”

3. US compares China's Covid-19 response to Chernobyl

Washington has accused China of a cover-up that will “go down in history along with Chernobyl”. Robert O’Brien, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, said Beijing gave “false information” to the World Health Organization at the start of the year. He added: “Someday they’re going to do an HBO show like they did with Chernobyl.” The Covid-19 death toll in the US is approaching 100,000.

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4. PM confirms schools will begin reopening on June 1st

The prime minister says parents and teachers should prepare for the phased reopening of schools in England to start on 1 June. Boris Johnson said the government intends to reopen for early years pupils, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing, he told teachers and parents to “plan in earnest” for school to resume in just over a week.

5. Treasury plans to rescue large firms hit by pandemic

The UK government says it will rescue large British companies severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis. Revealing a bailout plan, named Project Birch, the Treasury said: “We have put in place unprecedented levels of support to help businesses get through this crisis. Beyond that many firms are getting support from established market mechanisms, such as existing shareholders, bank lending and commercial finance.”

6. Defiant words as Benjamin Netanyahu's trial opens

The trial of Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges has opened in Jerusalem, days after the Israeli Prime Minister began a new term in office. The 70-year-old denies accusations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. As he arrived at the court, he said the allegations were aimed at “toppling him in any way possible”. He is the first standing leader to face trial in the country's history.

7. US imposes new restrictions on travellers from Brazil

The US has suspended entry for anyone who has been to Brazil in the previous 14 days. Brazil has recorded more than 360,000 cases, the country's health ministry has announced, while over 22,000 people have died with the virus. A White House spokeswoman said: “Today's action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country.”

8. Civil Service tweet causes a stir after Johnson briefing

A social media post on the official civil service account apparently criticising Boris Johnson’s press conference caused a stir yesterday. “Arrogant and offensive,” read the tweet from the @UKCivilService Twitter account. “Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?” The tweet, which was swiftly deleted, was sent minutes after Johnson had finished vigorously defending Dominic Cummings.

9. Earthquake hits as New Zealand PM gives TV interview

An earthquake struck while New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was giving a television interview. The 5.9 magnitude quake hit Wellington, on New Zealand's North Island, on Monday morning. “We're just having a bit of an earthquake here ... quite a decent shake here. If you see things moving behind me,” she said.

10. David Attenborough warns that climate change is being ignored

Sir David Attenborough says that climate change has been “swept off the front pages” by the coronavirus pandemic. The 94-year-old said: “The trouble is that right now the climate issue is also seen as being rather in the distant future because we’ve got the virus to think about.” He warned: “The danger of the Arctic and the Antarctic warming is becoming greater day by day.”

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