News diary 29 November-5 December: Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial opens, UK uni staff strike and Barbados becomes a republic - Press Gazette

News diary 29 November-5 December: Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial opens, UK uni staff strike and Barbados becomes a republic

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

Monday 29 November

It’s a mammoth news day domestically to kick off this week, with key events including (deep breath): Boris Johnson hosting the Israeli foreign minister, NHS chief Amanda Pritchard at a King’s Fund conference, a memorial service for murdered Met Police officer Matt Ratana,  the second part of the BBC’s controversial Royal documentary, Nicola Sturgeon’s address to the SNP conference, and a big speech by Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner on cleaning up politics which, happily for Rayner, coincides with the release of the Committee on Standards’ first report into MPs’ conduct.

The committee’s report into Owen Paterson’s lobbying was the catalyst for the second jobs scandal that continues to make waves in Westminster and which has the potential to be a long-term vote-loser for Boris Johnson’s government. Today’s findings are only likely to add to the pressure on the under-fire Prime Minister.

There’s also plenty going on around the world, notably the resumption of JCPOA talks over Iran’s nuclear activities, a special session of the World Health Assembly on pandemic preparedness, the start of the Indian parliament’s winter session and talks on the repeal of the country’s controversial farm laws, a second vote on Sweden’s first female Prime Minister, and the opening of Ghislaine Maxwell’s (pictured) trial in New York.

The former socialite and girlfriend of the late convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein has been in custody since July 2020, charged with multiple counts of sex trafficking and perjury. Maxwell is accused of transporting multiple women, some of whom were minors, to be sexually abused by Epstein between 1994 and 2004. The high-profile trial is expected to last six weeks and will feature testimony from some of the alleged victims.

Barbadians celebrate a landmark moment as the Caribbean country officially becomes a Republic. Current Governor-General Sandra Mason is sworn in as Barbados’ first President, following the country’s announcement last September that the Queen would be removed as head of state. The Prince of Wales is due to attend celebrations marking the occasion, which also coincide with the 55th anniversary of the country’s independence.

Tuesday

The ballot closes for Royal College of Nursing members on whether to strike over the latest NHS pay offer, with the results informing the union’s next steps in its campaign for a fully-funded 12.5% pay rise for nursing staff. A recent report by The Health Foundation, which recommended a review of the pay system for nurses, found that on average hospital nurses’ earnings in the UK are lower than in comparable countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States both in absolute and relative terms.

In Geneva, trade ministers from all over the globe gather for the 12th WTO Ministerial, the first such meeting in four years and the first since Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala took charge of the organisation. High on the agenda are likely to be calls to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, spearheaded by India and South Africa. The proposals were given a significant boost in May when the Biden administration announced its support for the so-called Trips waiver, though the EU has been significantly more reticent.

Wednesday

The US Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a hugely consequential challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. The case directly concerns the constitutionality of the ban, which threatens to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade decision by disregarding its 24-week foetal viability threshold. If the ban is upheld by the court’s conservative majority, it will have a momentous impact on women’s health, as other Republican-controlled states will have the go-ahead to enact increasingly severe laws of their own.

NATO foreign ministers are joined by Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba as they meet for a second day in Riga. Renewed tensions between Moscow and Kyiv likely feature prominently in discussions. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in town for the meeting and is also likely to attend the OSCE ministerial in Stockholm later in the week; Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will also be there, making a rare meeting between the pair in the Swedish capital a very real possibility.

Students across the country face disruption before their Christmas break as University and College Union members from 58 universities across the UK go on strike in relation to two disputes over pay and conditions and pension cuts. The Union’s General Secretary Dr Jo Grady has angered some Conservative MPs who claim her union are “addicted to strikes” after Grady said she does not feel guilty about repeated industrial action.

Thursday

The first of two by-elections this month takes place in the outer London seat of Old Bexley & Sidcup, which was represented by former minister James Brokenshire until his death from cancer in October. Brokenshire increased his majority to almost 19,000 at the 2019 election and a confident Boris Johnson suggested on a visit to the constituency earlier this month that the second jobs row won’t prevent Tory candidate Louie French from keeping the seat blue. Labour will hope to see their recent national poll bounce translate to a constituency level for the first time in this Parliament, while Reform party leader Richard Tice is making his second tilt at winning a seat by campaigning against what he calls the Consocialism of Johnson’s administration.

Friday

A new bill which could have profound implications for the music industry and artists’ earnings begins its legislative journey in Parliament today. The Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians, Etc.) Bill, sponsored by Labour MP and songwriter Kevin Brennan and dubbed the Fix Streaming Bill by supporters, would see artists receive a fairer share of revenues from streaming services and introduce a right to equitable remuneration for performers.

Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick is due at St Albans Crown Court to answer a charge of rape. Carrick, who is attached to the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Unit, is accused of raping a woman on 4 September last year. The 46-year-old was charged with 13 additional offences against three victims earlier this week, with all charges likely to be heard in a single trial next year.

Saturday

Pope Francis begins a three-day visit to Greece during which the plight of migrants and refugees, grimly demonstrated by last week’s tragedy in the Channel, is a key theme. The trip will see the Pontiff travel to the island of Lesbos to personally hear from migrants before heading back to Athens for a public mass.

Following weeks of negotiations that finally ended in a deal on 24 November, Germany’s SPD, FDP and Green parties vote this weekend on whether to approve the final coalition agreement, which would see Olaf Scholz replace Angela Merkel as Chancellor. Scholz’s SDP hold a virtual conference today as the Green Party’s 10-day online poll closes, and the FDP hold their conference on Sunday. If the parties approve, the Bundestag should vote on the new chancellor next week. Meanwhile, Merkel’s CDU party begins the first round of voting in a leadership election to replace Armin Laschet after his disappointing results in September’s poll.

Sunday 5 December

A milestone for the women’s game in England as the FA Cup final marks the 50th anniversary of the competition. The match is an appropriately heavyweight contest between WSL leaders Arsenal and second-placed side Chelsea, and it also takes place exactly 100 years since the FA announced a ban on women’s football.

The Formula One season reaches its penultimate stage at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as the battle to be crowned world champion goes down to the wire. Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton by just eight points following the Brit’s win in Qatar, setting the stage for a winner-takes-all showdown at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Verstappen could still seal the title with a win in Saudi Arabia, but would need Hamilton to finish outside the top six in order to clinch the crown.

The MOBO Awards, Britain’s biggest celebration of black music, take place in Coventry. Mercury Prize winner Arlo Parks and rapper Dave lead the music nominations this year, with actors Damson Idris and Daniel Kaluuya up for film and TV gongs. The ceremony is hosted by comedian Munya Chawawa alongside Leigh-Anne Pinnock, in her first post-Little Mix gig.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

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