Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 12 Feb 2021

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

1. Social distancing ‘until autumn’

Restrictions on socialising and meeting family members may have to remain in place until at least the autumn under plans for easing lockdown, The Times reports. Scientists believe people will have to wear masks and remain a metre apart until the end of the year. “The thinking is that social distancing will need to be in place for a long time to come,” a Whitehall source told the paper.

What Israel’s lockdown easing plan may tell us

2. Democrats rest Trump case

Democrats have finished presenting their argument that Donald Trump incited the Capitol riot, warning that “he can do this again” if he is not convicted. Meanwhile, three Republican senators allied with Trump met the former president’s defence team last night. Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee were spotted going into a room in the US Capitol that Trump’s lawyers were using to prepare their arguments.

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What the Capitol Hill siege means for Trump’s legacy

3. Meghan wins newspaper case

The Duchess of Sussex has hailed her “comprehensive win” over the Mail on Sunday’s “illegal and dehumanising practices” after she prevailed in her high court privacy case against the newspaper. Following a two-year legal battle, a judge ruled in her favour after the newspaper published extracts of a “personal and private” handwritten letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

Why Meghan Markle is suing the Mail on Sunday

4. China bans the BBC

China has blocked BBC World News within its borders after a series of reports on the persecution of ethnic minority Uighurs and the Covid-19 pandemic. The ban is also thought to be retaliation for Ofcom's decision to ban the Chinese state-controlled CGTN news channel in the UK. The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said China’s decision is an “unacceptable curtailing of media freedom” that will “damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world”.

Four things we learnt from the secret Uighur detention centre footage

5. Economy ‘a coiled spring’

The UK’s economy is like a “coiled spring” ready to release large amounts of “pent-up financial energy”, says the Bank of England's chief economist. Andy Haldane said that, thanks to the vaccine programme, the economy will fire “on all cylinders” by spring. However, General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has warned that the present “economic crisis” will undermine the “stability and security” of the UK.

‘More 1945 than 2008’: new CBI chief calls for economic reboot

6. Gymnastics abuse hotline flooded

A hotline set up by the NSPCC has received more than 220 calls alleging abuse in British gymnastics. The hotline was set up last summer after dozens of gymnasts spoke out against abuse in the system. More than half of calls received so far were regarded as so serious they have resulted in a referral to the police or social services.

British Gymnastics to investigate alleged abuse

7. Man ‘threatened to kill Biden’

A North Carolina man has been charged with making threats to kill Joe Biden. David Kyle Reeves, 27, of Gastonia, North Carolina, was arrested last week for knowingly and wilfully making threats to take the life of the president. He had allegedly contacted the White House switchboard multiple times by phone.

8. New drug gives Covid hope

Patients in hospital with Covid will be given an anti-inflammatory drug that has been found to speed recovery and reduce the risk of death. A trial showed that one life is saved for every 25 patients treated with tocilizumab. It slashed the time spent in hospital by five days when it was given to people ill enough to require help breathing. Professor Martin Landray said that tocilizumab would “change practice, not only here in the UK, but globally”.

9. Butcher raped and killed student

A married butcher has been convicted of raping and murdering a student on a night out. Sheffield Crown Court heard how Pawel Relowicz, 26, raped Libby Squire, 21, in a playing field before dumping her, dead or dying in the Humber. Humberside police have been accused of missing opportunities to catch the killer, who confessed to a series of sex offences after his arrest.

What happened to Libby Squire?

10. Welsh ‘Stonehenge link’ uncovered

The remains of one of Britain’s oldest stone circles have been discovered in Wales. Archaeologists believe the stones, which were uncovered in Pembrokeshire’s Preseli Hills, could be the original building blocks of Stonehenge. The Welsh circle has a diameter of 360ft (110m), the same as the ditch that encloses Stonehenge, and both are aligned to the midsummer solstice sunrise.

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