Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 August 2023

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

1. First UK womb transplant

Surgeons have carried out the first womb transplant in the UK. The team in Oxford spent eight hours removing the womb from the donor, then nine hours implanting it into the recipient, who was in the operating theatre next door. The receiver was a 34-year-old woman, and the donor her 40-year-old sister, both of whom are said to be “over the moon” after recovering well. The younger sibling plans to have IVF this autumn using embryos that she and her husband have in storage.

2. ‘Abysmal’ response to rapist

A judge said that the Metropolitan police protected a rapist within their ranks, dismissing the complaints of one of his victims and leaving him free to attack a teenager. Adam Provan, 44, was jailed yesterday for 16 years, on eight counts of raping two victims between 2003 and 2010. Judge Noel Lucas KC said the force should be ashamed, as the response to a female officer’s complaint had been “abysmal and shocking” and that they had been more interested in “looking out for one of their own”. Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe said the Met was “transforming” but that the case showed there were “key moments where we let women down and did not do all we could to support them”.

Is breaking up Scotland Yard the answer to its problems?

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3. Trump ‘to overshadow debate’

Donald Trump said that he would turn himself in today for formal processing on his alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election result in Georgia. The Times said it was a bid to “overshadow” tonight’s TV debate between his eight Republican rivals for the party’s presidential nomination. The first two of Trump’s co-defendants surrendered on Tuesday, while another two defendants sought to move their cases to federal court, said CNN, signs of how the “sprawling case” will “progress in multiple directions this week”.

Teflon Trump no longer: is the Georgia indictment different?

4. ‘Prolific’ Chinese spy used LinkedIn

A Chinese spy has used LinkedIn profiles to try to “lure” thousands of British officials to hand over state secrets in exchange for large sums of money and money-spinning business deals, said The Times. Sources said the intelligence officer, understood to have operated from behind a desk, worked on an industrial scale for at least five years. He is “the most prolific spy for a hostile state working against British interests in a generation”, added the paper.

China’s ‘breathtaking’ infiltration of UK economy: an existential threat?

5. Ulez block plan rejected

Downing Street has been blocked from overruling London’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) expansion after government lawyers said the bid would fail in the courts. The cabinet was hoping to use a little-known legal power that allows them to reject a London mayor’s transport strategy if it is “inconsistent with national policies”. However, lawyers concluded that such a move would be “quashed”, as the government itself is promoting air pollution improvement moves.

The cost of clean air: who will win the battle over low emissions zones?

6. Drone hits central Moscow

A drone has hit a building in central Moscow that was under construction, according to the local mayor. Writing on Telegram, Sergei Sobyanin also claimed that air defences shot down two drones in the Mozhaisk and Khimki districts of the Moscow region. Russia described it as “another attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack”. The drone strikes were “the latest in a series of attacks on the Russian capital”, said The Guardian.

Who is winning the war in Ukraine?

7. Boots removes formula ads

Online ads from Boots promoting brands of infant formula broke advertising rules, the watchdog has ruled. It is against the law to advertise infant formula for babies up to six months because it might discourage breastfeeding, explained the BBC. The high street chain has now apologised and said the adverts, which were automated, had been removed. The Baby Feeding Law Group said that the restrictions are to protect parent and carers from “undue commercial influence”.

8. Delivery drivers ‘pester for sex’

Takeaway drivers are asking customers to have sex with them using contact details they provide for deliveries, said a watchdog. According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, nearly a third (29%) of 18-34-year-olds have been targeted this way. “People have the right to order a pizza, or give their email for a receipt, or have shopping delivered, without then being asked for sex or a date a little while later”, said a spokesperson.

9. Warning for indebted firms

The Bank of England said that high interest rates are putting indebted businesses under the most pressure since 2009. It also warned that half of all businesses with borrowings will be struggling to meet debt payments by the end of this year, up from 45% last year. In a blog post, the Bank said that there was a growing risk that companies would default on their debts, which would impact “investment and employment sharply”.

Interest rates rise to 5.25% for first time in 15 years

10. Waitrose first ever meal deal

Waitrose has launched its first ever meal deal, offering shoppers the chance to buy a main, side and drink all for £5 once the meal deal is introduced on 30 August. The offerings show that although Britain was “built on ham and cheese sandwiches” they are “rapidly falling out of fashion as growing numbers of people choose wraps and sushi instead”, said The Times. However, the “middle-class staple” of a prawn mayonnaise sandwich is still the supermarket’s top seller, it added.

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