News diary 15-21 November: Ex-Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq gives racism evidence and Nick Clegg appears at Tech for Democracy conference - Press Gazette

News diary 15-21 November: Ex-Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq gives racism evidence and Nick Clegg appears at Tech for Democracy conference

Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…

Monday 15 November

The fallout from the Standards Commissioner’s report into former MP Owen Paterson rumbles on into another week as MPs vote on a motion to rescind the 3 November vote and endorse the report into the former Cabinet minister’s conduct. The government’s handling of the issue has been condemned by opposition parties and Tory backbenchers and ministers alike, with the developing outrage over MPs’ second jobs echoing the reaction to the expenses scandal and making a real dent in Boris Johnson’s recent poll ratings.

Johnson will get the chance to try to garner more favourable coverage with a speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the Guildhall. While the PM is the banquet’s traditional keynote, the 2019 election and the 2020 pandemic cancellation make this the first prime ministerial address since Theresa May told the 2018 dinner that Brexit negotiations “are now in the endgame”. Johnson may hope to discuss COP26 outcomes or do some Brexit sabre-rattling of his own while he tries to divert attention from the sleaze row.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey gives evidence to MPs on the Treasury Committee on the Bank’s last monetary policy report following the MPC’s majority decision not to raise the interest rate. Bailey said in a September speech that the committee was prepared to take action to ward off rising inflation, leading to speculation that a first rise to the bank rate since 2018 was on the cards this month. Questions on the likelihood of a change at the next MPC meeting in December, and on the record-high inflation forecast in the monetary policy report, are likely to be high on the agenda today.

Tuesday

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq (pictured) appears before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, giving evidence on the racial harassment and bullying storm which has engulfed the English game. A report by Yorkshire County Cricket Club found that Rafiq had been the victim of racial abuse, but concluded that no players, staff, or coaches would face disciplinary action. The crisis is being closely watched in Downing Street, where government officials have warned that Whitehall could intervene should the sport’s response be deemed insufficient.

Prospective jurors are interviewed for Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial set to begin later this month. Around 600 potential jurors have been vetted, indicating the scale of the challenge of selecting a jury for such a high-profile case. Issues raised in the jury questionnaire, made public against the wishes of the defence, include jurors’ experiences with sexual abuse, opinions on the #MeToo movement, and Maxwell’s relationship with the late Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell’s lawyers have argued that a fair trial is not possible due to the extensive media coverage her case has received since her arrest in 2019.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a COVID-19 update to the Scottish Parliament amid speculation Scotland could extend its COVID passport scheme to pubs and gyms to deal with the combined winter threat of COVID-19 and seasonal flu. Discussing the potential new measures, Deputy First Minister John Swinney told MSPs that the NHS was under “intense pressure” and that there were “some specific reasons to suspect that case numbers may increase in the weeks ahead”. Opposition politicians have criticised the idea, with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross arguing that the Scottish Government had “no data” to show its current passport scheme for large events had reduced the spread of the virus.

Wednesday

Boris Johnson’s latest appearance before the Liaison Committee could hardly have come at a worse time, with the fallout from the Paterson vote threatening to level up into a full-blown leadership crisis for the under-fire prime minister. The grilling from hardened committee chairs also comes ahead of the imminent publication of a review into the Downing Street flat refurbishment, and after Johnson was accused of dereliction of duty for failing to remain in Glasgow to see out COP26 negotiations, with the summit’s draft agreement widely considered to have fallen short.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid will hope to avoid any talk of crisis as he delivers the keynote address on the second day of the NHS Providers annual conference in Liverpool. Despite warnings from health chiefs that the NHS is at breaking point and putting patients at high risk, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said in an interview with Times Radio that there should be no need for more lockdowns because the health service must learn to “live with” the virus.

Thursday

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford leads the latest review of coronavirus restrictions in Wales with the threat of additional measures looming large. The number of confirmed cases has remained stubbornly high in Wales through recent months, with Covid rates continuing to be among the highest anywhere in Europe. The Welsh Government has already announced an expansion to its covid pass programme, while Health Minister Eluned Morgan has prepared the ground for possible new restrictions through the winter months.

Following Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s appearances at the European and French parliaments last week, Nick Clegg is set to appear at a Tech for Democracy conference being organized by the Danish government. Clegg is likely to find himself once again defending the company’s recent bad press, including over its alleged role in “fanning ethnic violence” in place such as Ethiopia, an accusation the company vehemently denies.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall continue their tour of Jordan and Egypt, arriving in Cairo today to highlight environmental issues as Egypt assumes the COP27 Presidency in 2022. The trip could provide a welcome distraction from the awkward affair of his former valet and close aide Michael Fawcett, who stepped down as chief executive of the Prince’s Trust following allegations that he helped to secure a knighthood for a wealthy donor.

Friday

It’s the final day of Michael Bloomberg’s World Economic Forum, billed as a rival to Davos, and speakers today include US Climate Envoy John Kerry and former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Delegates will be interested to hear Kerry’s thoughts on how the US will handle its commitments under the COP26 agreements, having told Bloomberg last week that the country would be coal-free by 2030 despite the US declining to sign up to a pledge to phase it out.

Adele releases her hotly-anticipated new album 30. Her latest single, Easy on Me, has spent three consecutive weeks at number one, becoming her third chart-topping single and breaking the record for the UK’s most-streamed song in a week. If her past achievements are anything to go by, a repeat of the 2017 Grammys could be on the cards for next year.

Saturday

The annual Bar Conference concludes with an appearance from Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy, who chairs a discussion on improving diversity in the legal profession. Though the developing scandal surrounding second jobs for MPs continues to principally focus on the Conservative Party, Lammy has been identified as one of Labour’s top side-earners after allegedly pulling in more than £100,000 in recent years. Back in the day job, tackling the courts backlog remains a focal point of Labour’s justice policy, and Lammy has accused Justice Secretary Dominic Raab of presiding over a system of “chaos”.

Sunday

Voters in two South American nations are set to head to the polls. Chile holds presidential and legislative elections, which follow a vote to proceed with the impeachment of the country’s conservative president, Sebastián Piñera, over corruption allegations linked to the Pandora Papers. It remains to be seen whether the impeachment eats away at his would-be successor Jose Antonio Kast’s lead over the leftist candidate Gabriel Boric.

In Venezuela, voting takes place in regional and municipal elections. Critics of President Nicolás Maduro argue he has created unfair conditions heavily favouring his supporters, and that he plans to use the result to illegitimately argue his policies are broadly popular among Venezuelans. In this context, the EU’s decision to send an election monitoring mission has reportedly ruffled feathers in Washington and elsewhere.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs / Livepic

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