Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 February 2022

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

1. Russia troop claim ‘false’

Moscow’s claim that it is moving troops away from Russia’s border with Ukraine is “false”, according to a senior White House official. The unnamed official said 7,000 extra troops have arrived in recent days and Russia could launch a “false” pretext to invade Ukraine “at any moment”, the BBC reported. In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Liz Truss, the UK’s foreign secretary, said Russia is preparing to test the West’s “mettle” by dragging out the stand-off at the Ukrainian border for weeks “if not months”.

What would a Russian war with Ukraine look like?

2. Police to probe Charles charity

The Met Police is planning to investigate allegations that Prince Charles’ charity offered to help a wealthy Saudi citizen with a knighthood and British citizenship in return for a donation. The force, which said there have been no arrests or interviews under caution, confirmed it is investigating alleged offences under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. The Prince’s Foundation said it would be “inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation”. The news comes just days after Charles’ brother, Prince Andrew, settled his sexual assault lawsuit.

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A short history of the UK’s honours scandals

3. Jabs rolled out to five-11s

Children aged between five and 11 in England will be offered a low-dose Covid vaccine, ministers have announced. The rollout, described by health secretary Sajid Javid as “non-urgent”, will begin in April. The decision was made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation following months of deliberation. A government source told The Guardian that vaccination for this age group “would not be pushed in the same way” as the offer for adults and older children.

How far off is a variant-proof Covid-19 vaccine?

4. Voters ‘didn’t get Brexit’

The British public did not understand what they were voting for when they backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum, the European Parliament has claimed. In a report on the Article 50 process, MEPs said UK voters “had scant knowledge about the European Union” and “were not adequately informed about the far-reaching consequences of the decision to leave the union”. A UK government source told the Daily Telegraph that “being lectured on transparency by the European Parliament shows just how little many in the EU have learnt from Brexit”.

Brexit: the pros and cons of leaving the EU

5. Met issues new storm warning

The Met Office has issued a new “stay indoors” warning with Storm Eunice set to affect much of the UK on Friday. Storm Dudley, which left thousands without power in the North East, Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Lancashire, is expected to move away this morning. According to the BBC, Eunice will be “quite a potent storm” with widespread gusts of up to 70mph, occasionally reaching 100mph in England and Wales.

Wildest UK weather of 2021 - in pictures

6. Dick ‘quit after Khan ultimatum’

Former Met Police chief Cressida Dick told senior colleagues that she quit after the Mayor of London gave her an ultimatium: sack rogue officers at Charing Cross police station or face suspension. According to The Times, Dick said she was unable to dismiss officers who had joked about rape, domestic violence and killing black children, as they had been charged through an independent process by the police watchdog, but her explanation “failed to placate Khan”. Relations between City Hall and the Met are “at rock bottom”, said the paper.

Cressida Dick: the scandal-hit chief stepping down from Met Police

7. DNA test could aid diagnoses

A straightforward DNA test which spots repetitive elements in whole genome sequences could end years of uncertainty for people with relatively common neurological conditions, a new study has found. These tests are already offered to people in England with rare disorders or childhood cancers, but scientists now believe they could be implemented in routine clinical practice, said The Guardian. Previously, obtaining a definitive diagnosis for conditions such as Huntingdon’s disease has been difficult. “This work paves the way for this to be implemented immediately within the NHS,” said genomics expert Mark Caulfield.

8. BLM crackdown in schools

Teachers have been forbidden from promoting campaigning groups such as Stonewall and Black Lives Matter under new government guidance. The Department for Education said schools must ensure that any “contentious and disputed” historic periods such as the British Empire and imperialism are taught in a “balanced” manner. Teaching unions told The Times the new guidance could impinge on freedom of speech by limiting what schools felt comfortable teaching.

US culture war: why book bans are back

9. ‘Concerns’ over Andrew offer

Charities working with survivors of abuse say they have “significant concerns” about Prince Andrew’s offer to support trafficking victims. The Duke of York made the suggestion after settling the civil sexual assault case brought by Virginia Giuffre, but the National Association for People Abused in Childhood said such a move “would raise significant concerns as to the ethical implications of accepting money or patronage from an individual who is a suspected perpetrator and who had ties to a convicted offender”.

What next for Prince Andrew after sex abuse case settlement?

10. First woman cured of HIV

A patient in the US is believed to be the third person in the world, and the first woman, to be cured of HIV. The woman has now been free of the virus for 14 months after she received umbilical cord blood as part of a new transplant method which is thought to be too risky for most people with HIV. “All HIV cure stories are genuinely remarkable and a cause for celebration,” said BBC’s health and science correspondent, “but this approach does not bring us closer to a cure for the 37 million people living with HIV”.

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