News diary 21-27 March: Amess murder trial, Navalny verdict and Oscar awards - Press Gazette

News diary 21-27 March: Amess murder trial, Navalny verdict and Oscar awards

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

MONDAY

The government’s new energy strategy is due to be published this week as fuel prices continue to soar and households brace for the looming energy price cap increase. Announcing the strategy earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would address the UK’s reliance on Russian energy and boost renewable sources, while many Tory MPs argued for a resumption of fracking and Labour called for a “green sprint” to energy independence. Johnson was keen to highlight the climate-friendly aspects of the new strategy during a Gulf visit last week, promising a “massive jump forward” on renewables and an increase in UK hydrocarbon use, before it was revealed he had failed to reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia on increasing oil exports.

Ali Harbi Ali goes on trial at the Old Bailey charged with the murder of MP Sir David Amess in October last year. Ali is accused of stabbing the former Southend West MP to death as he carried out a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea. Pope Francis paid tribute to Sir David’s life of public service at his Westminster Cathedral funeral in November, sentiments echoed across the political spectrum. The trial is due to conclude in mid-April.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan travels to Baltimore to meet with her US counterpart Katherine Tai in the first round of a new series of negotiations aimed at boosting the £200bn transatlantic trading relationship. Last year, both countries agreed to suspend tariffs arising from the long-running Boeing-Airbus dispute and begin negotiations over US tariffs on UK steel imports. UK officials hope that the new discussions represent an improvement in the prospects of reaching a comprehensive free trade agreement with the previously lukewarm Biden administration.

TUESDAY

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary publishes the findings of its long-awaited review into anti-corruption procedures in the Metropolitan Police. The force has endured a series of scandals over its conduct and culture in recent years, culminating in Commissioner Cressida Dick’s resignation in February. The damning report into the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan last summer concluded the Met was “institutionally corrupt”, while a new YouGov poll illustrates the alarming decline in public support for the Met from Londoners.

A verdict is announced in the latest case against imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who has used the trial as a platform to criticise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an attempt by President Vladimir Putin to divert attention from domestic problems. Prosecutors announced last week that they are seeking a 13-year sentence over allegations Navalny stole from his Anti-Corruption Foundation.

President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve on the US Supreme Court is questioned by Senators as her week of confirmation hearings begins in earnest. Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated to the bench, though her confirmation would not change its ideological makeup. Jackson will be asked about her record as a public defender and Biden’s pledge to pick a woman of colour. As a Harvard alumnus and member of its board, she will also be asked whether she plans to recuse herself from a high-profile case regarding the university’s use of affirmative action in its admissions process.

WEDNESDAY

Rishi Sunak looks set to deliver a budget in all but name when he steps up to the despatch box today, with the twin crises of war in Ukraine and a domestic cost of living crunch likely to necessitate more loosening of the Treasury purse-strings. The pressure to deliver some help for struggling households became more acute after the influential IFS think tank revealed the impact the decision to freeze income tax thresholds would have on tax bills.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge continue their regional tour of the Caribbean with a three-day visit to Jamaica as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The couple’s presence on the island may not be wholly welcomed after Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness commented in November that the country must follow in Barbados’ footsteps and “become a Republic”. Meanwhile, the more immediate heirs to the throne, Prince Charles and Camilla, visit Ireland, meeting Irish President Michael D Higgins in County Wicklow.

THURSDAY

Biden is in Brussels today, where he attends extraordinary summits for both NATO and G7 leaders to discuss the Ukraine crisis, and also participates in the two-day EU leaders’ meeting that kicks off today. The key gatherings take place exactly one month since the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, and the fast-moving nature of the conflict makes it difficult to predict whether efforts to end the war will have borne fruit by the time leaders meet, or whether fears of an escalation of an already terrible situation will turn out to have been well-founded.

The COVID-19 provisions for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) at the point of infection end. From today, employees must wait until the fourth day of their illness to claim SSP, while the £500 self-isolation support payment also ends. TUC General Secretary Francis O’Grady says the government’s decision to limit sick pay will take a “sledgehammer to public health”.

FRIDAY

A preliminary hearing in the inquiry into the death of Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The inquiry is now chaired by former Supreme Court judge Lord Hughes, after predecessor Baroness Hallett was dragooned into leading the imminent coronavirus inquiry. Sturgess died after being exposed to Novichok in 2018, just weeks after Russian nationals Sergei and Yulia Skripal were targeted in Salisbury. Today’s hearing is likely to establish a formal timetable for the inquiry.

Students and young people in cities across the world take part in the Greta Thunberg-inspired Fridays for Future strikes to demand climate justice. Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and Europe’s dependency on Russian oil, it has been suggested that pressure from the likes of Thunberg’s campaign to wean European countries away from fossil fuels could have a greater impact on Russia’s economy than western sanctions.

SATURDAY

England play Switzerland in their first match of the year as the Three Lions begin their preparations for the World Cup in Qatar. Southgate is likely to experiment against the Swiss with an eye on November’s global showcase, after calling-up the likes of Marc Guehi, Ben White, and Conor Gallagher. Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford proved to be the big-name omissions from the squad, though Southgate has insisted their chances of travelling to Qatar aren’t over.

A march and vigil organised by the Mayor of London takes place in the capital to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine more than a month into the war with Russia. The march proceeds from Park Lane to Trafalgar Square, passing en route Yoko Ono’s ‘IMAGINE PEACE’ message displayed on Piccadilly Lights.

SUNDAY

The red carpet is rolled out for the 94th Academy Awards, with Netflix western The Power of the Dog hoping to follow up its recent success with a Best Picture win, one of 12 prizes it’s nominated for. Anyone hoping for a light respite from the news is likely to be disappointed: the Baftas featured several references to Ukraine, while Oscars co-host Amy Schumer admitted that she had pitched getting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky involved in the ceremony to take advantage of the millions of people watching the broadcast.

And two things not to forget on Sunday: it’s Mothering Sunday, and the clocks go forward an hour to usher in British Summer Time.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

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