Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 December 2021

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

1. Party investigator quits over own party

The UK’s leading civil servant has stepped aside from his role leading an inquiry into Downing Street lockdown parties, after it emerged an event was also held in his own office. No 10 said Simon Case had removed himself from the process “to ensure the ongoing investigation retains public confidence”. He will be replaced by Sue Gray, a veteran civil servant and the second permanent secretary at the communities and levelling up department.

2. Woman arrested after fire kills boys

A 27-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of child neglect after two sets of young twins were killed in a house fire in south London. All of the boys, aged three and four, were given CPR by firefighters called to Collingwood Road in Sutton. They were taken to hospital but later died. Meanwhile, the father of the boys has spoken of the “devastating” impact of the incident on his family. Dalton Hoath described the children as “bright, caring, loveable boys”.

3. Sage says new rules needed ‘very soon’

The government’s scientific advisers said more stringent restrictions need to be brought in “very soon” if ministers want to stop hospital admissions reaching 3,000 a day. In leaked minutes of a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, seen by the BBC, Sage advisers say: “If the aim is to reduce the levels of infection in the population and prevent hospitalisations reaching these levels, more stringent measures would need to be implemented very soon.”

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4. Moscow announces ‘contentious’ demands

Moscow has put forward a list of security guarantees it says it wants the west to agree to in order to lower tensions in Europe and defuse the crisis over Ukraine. The Guardian said the “highly contentious” list of demands includes “many elements that have already been ruled out”. Among them are a ban on Ukraine entering Nato and a limit to the deployment of troops and weapons to Nato’s eastern flank.

5. Trump ‘deliberately undermined’ Covid response

The Donald Trump administration made “deliberate efforts to undermine the nation’s coronavirus response for political purposes,” the House Select subcommittee on the crisis said in a report. The committee said the Trump regime worked to undermine the public health response to the pandemic by blocking officials from speaking publicly, watering down testing guidance and attempting to interfere with other public health messaging.

6. Maxwell will not testify at trial

Ghislaine Maxwell has confirmed that she will not be testifying in her sex-trafficking trial, after her legal team rested its case after just a day a half. In what The Telegraph described as a “frosty exchange”, the British socialite’s lawyers complained to the judge that their “client’s life is on the line” and they “were only given one day to put on a defence”. The trial of the British socialite, who denies procuring underage girls for her boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse, could reach a verdict before Christmas.

7. Cop sacked over racist message

A Metropolitan police officer has been dismissed for using a racial slur in a WhatsApp message to a colleague. When investigators searched a phone belonging to a colleague of PC Harry Chandler, they found he had used the slur in a conversation discussing which area of London to rent a flat in. PC Chandler, who admitted the allegation, will be placed on the barred list preventing him from future employment within the police service.

8. Man jailed for anti-police rioting

A man who set fire to police vehicles during a riot that followed a “kill the bill” demonstration has been jailed for 14 years. Ryan Roberts led chants of “ACAB: all cops are bastards” outside Bridewell police station in Bristol on 21 March before throwing cans, bottles and placards at officers, as well as verbally abusing and kicking them. The 25-year-old then smashed windows of the police station, Bristol crown court was told. Giving evidence, Roberts said he got “carried away”.

9. Omicron fear causing food waste

Food charities and restaurants are warning of a mountain of wasted food, as hospitality businesses struggle with last-minute cancelled bookings. The Guardian reported that thousands of restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels had placed large orders for festive food in what should have been one of the busiest weeks of the year. But concern over the Omicron variant has led to a dramatic drop-off in custom in recent days.

10. Clapton wins bootleg case

Eric Clapton has won a legal case against a 55-year-old German woman who listed for sale a bootleg live CD for €9.95 (£8.45). The woman said she was unaware that she was committing copyright infringement by listing the CD, which contains recordings of performances from the 1980s, on eBay. She told the court that the listing had been removed after one day. The court ordered that she pay the legal fees of both parties, which total £2,889. Clapton’s manager said “Germany is a country where sales of bootleg and counterfeit CDs are rife.”

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