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News diary 13-19 May: Sweden considers Julian Assange sex assault claims and Tommy Robinson back in court

Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week… 

On Monday, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson holds a press conference in Stockholm to announce whether Sweden will re-open the case against Julian Assange, who was accused of sexual assault in 2010.

The case was dropped while the Wikileaks founder took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, with prosecutors saying they had exhausted all prospects of pursuing the investigation while he was there, but it has been reconsidered by Swedish authorities since his arrest last month.

Assange has long maintained that the allegations are false and his presence in Sweden would facilitate extradition to the United States, where he faces charges relating to Wikileaks’ release of classified information.

Former Sheffield Wednesday safety officer Graham Mackrell appears for sentencing at Preston Crown Court after being convicted of health and safety offences related to the Hillsborough disaster.

Mackrell is the first person to be convicted in relation to the 1989 tragedy, and was found guilty earlier this year after standing trial alongside match commander David Duckenfield. Three additional defendants face a criminal trial later in the year on charges of perverting the course of justice following the disaster.

In London, Tony Blair participates in a discussion on populism hosted by the Guardian as part of its new project on the state of globalisation, for which the paper has been investigating attitudes to immigration and belief in conspiracy theories, among other themes.

Blair’s take on populism in the UK comes amid growing support for Nigel Farage’s new party, whose apparent popularity contradicts the former prime minister’s stance on Brexit and a second referendum.

For those of a more Brownite persuasion, Tom Watson delivers a lecture at the Fabian Society marking the 25th anniversary of the death of former Labour leader John Smith.

In the middle of a tour of the North West as he attempts to become an MEP, Tommy Robinson (pictured), real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is due at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday for a hearing in his contempt of court case.

The right-wing activist and co-founder of the English Defence League, whose election campaign so far has been marred by violent confrontations, has called for his supporters to gather outside the London court as he contests an allegation that he broke reporting restrictions imposed on a trial at Leeds Crown Court last year.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to follow last week’s diplomacy round with a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Talks between the two are likely to focus on the power struggle in Venezuela after Juan Guaidó’s failed coup attempt and Russia’s ongoing support for Nicolas Maduro.

Pompeo and Lavrov met recently on the fringe of the 6 May Arctic Council meeting in Finland, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov subsequently suggested that President Vladimir Putin may also meet with Pompeo depending on the outcome of today’s discussions.

The Supreme Court hands down its judgment on Wednesday in a case brought by Privacy International which challenges the mass collection of data by GCHQ. The NGO alleges that data harvesting by British intelligence violates rights to privacy and freedom of expression, a position which was echoed by the European Court of Human Rights in September of last year.

Across Parliament Square, Penny Mordaunt delivers her first speech as defence secretary at the Royal United Services Institute’s First Sea Lord’s Sea Power Conference. Mordaunt took on the job less than two weeks ago in the wake of Gavin Williamson’s sacking, and her remarks at RUSI may give an early indication of how she intends to handle her new brief.

In the US, Special Counsel Robert Mueller may appear before the House Judiciary Committee as early as Wednesday to take questions on his report into collusion with Russia in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice by the Trump campaign.

President Trump has argued in an apparently selective interpretation of the report’s findings that it offers total exoneration, though the committee’s decision to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to hand over the unredacted report suggests Democratic representatives will seek an outright refutation of the president’s remarks from Mueller.

Elsewhere in the House, there is a hearing to discuss the status of the Boeing 737 Max, with Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board chiefs scheduled to testify. The hearing comes after the Ethiopian Airlines crash which left 157 people dead and the subsequent grounding of the plane by carriers around the world.

Chinese firm Huawei is rumoured to be launching a new 5G handset at an event in London on Thursday which comes after an escalation in the ongoing row over its access to the UK’s 5G infrastructure.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo first issued a veiled warning over the security of US intelligence during a joint media appearance with Jeremy Hunt, before going further in a speech, suggesting that Theresa May’s predecessor would not have allowed China “to control the internet of the future”. Meanwhile, Huawei deputy chairman Ken Hu is among the keynote speakers at the annual VIVA Tech conference in Paris.

The Global Drug Survey, an annual report on worldwide drug trends billed as the largest of its kind, releases its latest findings. The report considers factors such as value for money, policing, and drug ethics, and the 2018 edition found that many English drinkers do not believe the health risks on the packaging of drinks containers.

Jack Renshaw appears for sentencing at the Old Bailey on Friday, after admitting a plot to murder the Labour MP Rosie Cooper. Renshaw’s trial concluded in April, though a jury was unable to return a verdict on charges that he previously held membership of the neo-Nazi group National Action.

Renshaw admitted he planned to kill the West Lancashire Labour MP with a machete in the summer of 2017, and also pleaded guilty to a further charge of making threats to kill a police officer.

Maintenance staff on the London Underground are due to go on strike for three days after voting in favour of industrial action in a ballot run by the RMT union. The Tube workers argue that planned changes to train preparation schedules would be unsafe and have an impact on service reliability, and the action could disrupt football fans’ travel to Wembley tomorrow.

The highlight of an action-packed day of sport on Saturday sees Manchester City taking on Watford in the final of the FA Cup. Watford have never won the competition and lost to Everton in their last FA Cup final appearance 35 years ago. City on-the-other-hand are five-time winners, and last lifted the famous trophy back in 2011.

Across the pond, Deontay Wilder returns to the ring for the first time since his controversial draw with Britain’s Tyson Fury back in December. The Bronze Bomber defends his World Heavyweight Championship against fellow American Dominic Breazeale.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is the keynote speaker as the Criminal Bar Association hosts its spring conference. Cox’s address comes at a difficult time for the profession, with criminal barristers threatening a walk out in the latest phase of a pay row with the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CBA has accused the CPS of treating the profession with “contempt”, with many barristers alleging that they are working, in effect, for less than minimum wage.

Voters head to the polls Down Under to elect all 151 members to the House of Representatives and 40 members of the Senate. Scott Morrison became Australia’s sixth Prime Minister in 12 years when he assumed the role last August after Malcolm Turnbull was ousted by party colleagues, but his Liberal-National coalition have been trailing the Labor Party in the polls.

Morrison used the final election debate to pledge millions of new jobs and a “more prosperous and wealthy nation” in an attempt to head off the challenge from Labor’s Bill Shorten.

After announcing his entry into the fray last month, former Vice President Joe Biden officially kicks off his presidential campaign in Philadelphia. Biden is the highest-profile candidate yet to seek the opportunity to stop President Trump from winning a second term, and the campaign is his third tilt at the presidency.

Despite facing accusations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour around women, Biden already commands a sizeable lead over his Democratic rivals in most opinion polls.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg becomes the latest Democrat to take part in an election town hall event hosted by the right-wing Fox News network on Sunday.

The youthful candidate recently saw his profile grow nationally following a successful campaign rollout, strong performance at a town hall hosted by CNN and a public spat with Vice President Mike Pence over the latter’s views on LGBTQ issues. He would be America’s first gay president should he overcome the odds and make it to the White House.

And after eight series, 73 episodes, and 47 Emmy Awards, fantasy TV series Game of Thrones reaches its much-anticipated climax. The 80-minute episode airs on 19 May in the United States (early hours of 20 May in the UK), with millions of viewers across the globe expected to tune in.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Henry Nicholls

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