Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 19 August 2023

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

1. Letby warnings were ignored

NHS bosses failed to investigate allegations against Lucy Letby and tried to silence doctors who raised concerns. Letby has been found guilty of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others in a neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Dr Ravi Jayaram, consultant paediatrician, repeatedly raised concerns about his former colleague but was told to apologise to her and “draw a line” under his suspicions. Lead consultant Dr Stephen Brearey first raised concerns in 2015, but no action was taken and she went on to attack five more babies, killing two.

2. Hungry kids stealing food

Charities say that hungry children have resorted to stealing food as more than 120,000 young people are now living in extreme poverty in the UK. A survey found the situation is deteriorating, with soaring poverty keeping children out of school as they worried they would be bullied for not being able to afford well-fitting clothes. Parents were forced to skip meals to feed their children and live with no heating or hot water, found researchers. One child was forced to steal an apple out of hunger “like a story from the 1800s”.

3. Russia bans UK journalists

Moscow has banned dozens of British journalists, media representatives and senior UK politicians from entering Russia, the foreign ministry said on Friday. The Russian government said the bans were a response to UK sanctions and the “spreading of false information about Russia”, as well as “London’s unrelenting military support for the Kyiv neo-Nazi regime”. Among those on the list was Britain’s minister of state for defence, Annabel Goldie, whom Moscow said “was responsible for the supply of weapons to Ukraine, including depleted uranium shells”.

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4. New Covid variant in London

A new Covid variant detected in London is causing concern due to its large number of mutations. The variant, named BA.2.86, was reported in Israel and has since been detected in Denmark and the US. The UK Health Security Agency said there was not enough data to assess the relative severity or degree of immune escape of BA.2.86 compared with other variants in circulation. However, said The Guardian, it has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein relative to the current predominant variant and its detection in several countries has “put scientists on alert”.

5. US holds historic summit

China and the US have held an historic meeting between Joe Biden, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol. The US president hosted the first ever stand-alone meeting among the three countries at the Camp David presidential retreat, in a “diplomatic - but still tenuous - coup for the American leader”, said the BBC. South Korea and Japan are neighbours and old US allies, but “they have never been friends”, added the broadcaster.

6. Editor admits viewing child images

A former newspaper and magazine editor has been given a suspended sentence after admitting viewing child sexual abuse online. Peter Wilby, 78, had more than 100 indecent images of children on his computer, dating between 2013 and 2022, according to the National Crime Agency. The former editor of the Independent on Sunday and New Statesman said he had been accessing such images since the late 1990s and admitted having a sexual interest in children. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years.

7. Trump asks for trial postponement

Donald Trump’s lawyers asked the judge overseeing his federal election interference trial to delay the start date until April 2026, almost 18 months after the next White House election and more than two years from the trial date proposed by the US government. However, said prosecutors, an earlier trial date would “vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial”, adding that “it is difficult to imagine a public interest stronger than the one in this case in which the defendant – the former president of the United States – is charged with three criminal conspiracies”.

8. Businessman in London bomb plot

A businessman with a “deep-seated grudge” against two lawyers at the National Crime Agency planted two devices resembling bombs in London’s legal district to intimidate them. Jonathan Nuttall, 50, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of planning to plant the explosives over a £1.4m legal dispute with the NCA, which had put him at risk of losing his stately home in Hampshire. The jury found the businessman guilty by a majority of 10 to two. He will be sentenced at a later date.

9. King ‘to use Wales’ star quality’

The King will hold a “royal summit” to lay out the future direction of the monarchy, sources have told The Mirror. It is believed that the Prince and Princess of Wales are at the heart of his plans, as he plans use William and Kate’s “star quality” to help bind the Commonwealth together. In the autumn, Charles and Camilla will travel to Kenya in East Africa, hoping “to use the symbolism tied into his mother’s legacy to offer a hand of friendship, which might get harder as the years go by”, said a source.

10. Farm tells visitors to stop stripping off

A farm has urged visitors to stop posing naked for photographs in its field of sunflowers. Writing on Facebook, the owners of Stoke Fruit Farm on Hayling Island, off the south coast, said: “Reminder to all we are a family area and please keep your clothes on in the sunflowers! We are having a increase of reports of naked photography taking place and this must not happen during our public sessions please!” Speaking to CNN, Sam Wilson, one of the owners, said “we’ve always had people take risque pictures but this is the first year it’s been a problem”.

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