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February 23, 2024

News diary 26 February-3 March: Sarah Everard inquiry report, Bibby Stockholm challenge, Iran elections

A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.

By Foresight News

A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.

Leading the week

The first report from an independent inquiry into the killing of Sarah Everard is due to be published on Thursday (February 29), days before the third anniversary of her kidnapping on Sunday (March 3). The 33-year-old’s disappearance and brutal rape and murder at the hands of Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens shocked the nation, particularly as it emerged that Couzens’ behaviour towards women had been common knowledge among colleagues before the murder. The first part of Dame Elish Angiolini’s inquiry looks at Couzens’ police career, vetting, and incidents or complaints regarding his conduct prior to Everard’s disappearance. The case shined a light on officers committing criminal offences and contributed to a significant erosion of trust, particularly in the Met Police. Far from being the case of one bad apple, numerous police officers have been convicted of serious offences since Couzens was jailed for a whole-life term. BBC Factual has also announced a new hour-long documentary, Sarah Everard: The Search for Justice, which will air later this year.

The government’s battle to stop the boats heads to the High Court once again on Tuesday (February 27), in a three-day hearing which sees Portland Mayor Carralyn Parkes challenging the Home Office’s jurisdiction over the highly-controversial asylum-seeker barge, the Bibby Stockholm. Parkes argues that the barge should be subject to planning control by Dorset Council, giving local residents a say in the decision to dock it at Portland Port. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has tried to win the favour of the right of his party by making immigration one of his key pledges, but his plans have faced a number of setbacks. The Bibby Stockholm was originally set to be the flagship vessel for the Home Office’s scheme to house migrants on barges, but has proven to be such a disaster that the wider policy has been shelved, and more bad news came last week when immigration and borders watchdog David Neal was sacked for leaking critical reports to the press. Quarterly immigration statistics published on Thursday (February 29) are unlikely to provide much comfort after last year’s record figures, though the government will be hoping to seize on a continued fall in the number of small boats arrivals.

The row between Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Henry Staunton will rumble on into another week when the former Post Office chair gives evidence to the Business and Trade Committee on Tuesday (February 27) in a session on compensation for victims of the Horizon scandal. After a series of claims and counter-claims from both parties, senior civil servant Sarah Munby took the unusual step on Wednesday of publicly rejecting Staunton’s suggestion that she told him to delay payments when she was in charge of the business department in 2022. The former executive now faces the prospect of defending his honesty as well as his record at the Post Office in what’s set to be a must-watch session that will also hear from key figures in the scandal including campaigning former subpostmaster Alan Bates and current Post Office chief Nick Read.

Speaking of political rows, an embattled Lindsay Hoyle will be hoping this weekend will be enough time to take the wind out of the campaign to remove him from the Speaker’s chair following Wednesday’s free-for-all over motions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, which encompassed Parliamentary procedure, party politics and the safety of MPs. With over 70 signatories to an early-day motion calling for a confidence vote in the Speaker, there’s still potential for further developments when the Commons returns on Monday (February 26), though Cabinet-level backing for the Speaker suggests he may now be able to ride out the storm.

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Looking abroad

After a virtual meeting of G7 leaders tomorrow (February 24) marking the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting an in-person  summit on support for Kyiv on Monday (February 26). With the war entering its third year, expect leaders to reiterate their long-term commitment to Ukraine’s war effort amid concerns about its ability to hold territory following the recent withdrawal of forces from Avdiivka in Donetsk. But the mood at Monday’s gathering could be somewhat lightened by the fact that lawmakers in Hungary now appear to be set to finally sign off on Sweden’s accession to NATO when they meet for their spring session the same day, completing the Nordic nation’s tortured path to full membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion. All eyes will then turn to Moscow on Thursday (February 29) for Vladimir Putin’s annual address to Russian lawmakers, his last before elections next month. Putin is likely to strike a typically defiant tone in the face of new sanctions and condemnations following the death of Alexey Navalny last week. Navalny’s widow Yulia is scheduled to address the European Parliament on Wednesday (February 28).

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It’s also shaping up to be a significant week in terms of developments in the Middle East following news that US, Israeli, Qatar and Egyptian officials are meeting in Paris today to discuss a potential ceasefire deal. At the International Court of Justice in the Hague, hearings conclude on Monday (February 26) in proceedings over the UN’s request for an advisory opinion on the consequences of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Monday also marks the deadline for Israel to report back to the court on compliance with its ruling as part of South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza, as well as the opening of the latest Human Rights Council session, which is likely to be dominated by the conflict. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and a host of ministers are due at the high-level segment in the first days of the session, before a report on the situation in Palestine is discussed on Thursday (February 29). The war is also expected to feature in talks at the three-day Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey from Friday (March 1), when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will deliver a speech.

Meanwhile, elections are scheduled in Iran on Friday (March 1), when voting takes place for both the Islamic Consultative Assembly and – arguably more significantly – the Assembly of Experts, the 88-member body of Islamic jurists who serve eight-year terms and will one day be responsible for appointing Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s successor. Observers are predicting a record-low turnout following anti-government protests in recent years sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, pointing to a widening gulf between the hardline regime and a younger, disillusioned electorate. While Khamenei has urged the public to participate in elections as a means of reform, a recent survey suggested over three quarters of Iranians may boycott Friday’s vote.

Also look out for…

February 26

  • Commons motion on Humble Address to affirm support for Northern Ireland’s devolved institutions
  • UAE hosts WTO Ministerial Conference
  • Junior doctors’ strikes continue
  • National panel response to Bronson Battersby review due
  • US Supreme Court hears landmark cases over social media content moderation
  • Mobile World Congress opens
  • FA Cup fifth-round fixtures begin

February 27

  • Publishers at Lords committee session on the future of news
  • Junior doctors’ strikes continue
  • Ed Miliband at International Energy Week event
  • Tony Radakin speech to Chatham House defence and security conference
  • Icelandic president address to RUSI on Arctic security
  • MakeUK National Manufacturing Conference
  • Deadline for CMA report from housebuilding market study
  • Municipal elections in Israel
  • V4 leaders meet in Prague

February 28

  • Junior doctors’ strikes end
  • Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer face off at PMQs
  • John Healey speech to Policy Exchange on UK defence
  • Journalists at Investigatory Powers Tribunal hearing over alleged surveillance
  • Hunter Biden deposition before US House committees
  • G20 finance ministers and central bank heads meet in Sao Paulo
  • Taiwanese presidential address expected to mark Peace Memorial Day
  • Apple annual shareholders’ meeting

February 29

  • Rochdale by-election
  • Lucy Frazer at FT Business of Football event
  • UNWRA funding could run out
  • Lloyd Austin appears before US House committee on health issues
  • First session of Pakistan’s national assembly since elections
  • Trial for five charged over Strasbourg Christmas market attack
  • Keir Starmer biography released

March 1

  • Rochdale by-election results announced
  • Planned launch of NASA SpaceX Crew-8 mission
  • Conversion therapy ban bill debated in Parliament
  • Officer named in Chris Kaba murder trial
  • Sentencing for three guilty of Shakira Spencer murder
  • Huw Pill speech to Cardiff Business School
  • First part of US government funding CR expires
  • World Athletics Indoor Championships begin

March 2

  • London Labour regional conference
  • Welsh Lib Dems spring conference
  • BRIT Awards
  • Formula One season begins in Bahrain
  • US presidential election caucuses
  • Jake Paul v Ryan Bourland

March 3

  • Rail fares increase
  • Ariana Grande album release
  • Tokyo Marathon

Statistics, reports and results

February 26

  • OEUK clean energy transition manifesto
  • Results from: Bunzl

February 27

  • OBR outlook on Welsh taxes
  • FTSE Women Leaders Review
  • RC Nielsen Shop Price Index
  • Bank of England capital issuance
  • Quarterly figures on crime in Scotland
  • Results from: Rocket Lab, Smith & Nephew, abrdn

February 28

  • US Q4 GDP (second estimate)
  • OBR fourth budget forecast round
  • Foreign Direct Investment 2023
  • Working and Workless Households
  • Results from: Just Eat Takeaway.com, The Co-operative Bank, Taylor Wimpey, Paramount, UCB, Reckitt Benckiser Group

February 29

  • NHS sickness absence and vacancy statistics
  • Monthly figures on GP appointments
  • Quarterly statutory homelessness figures
  • Energy trends and prices
  • SMMT car production figures
  • Freedom in the World 2024 report launch
  • PwC Women In Work Index
  • Canada, India and Turkey Q4 GDP
  • Results from: Ocado, International Airlines Group (IAG), Air France-KLM, Serco, Man Group, Atos, Schroders, London Stock Exchange, Best Buy, Veolia, Weir Group

March 1

  • Final OBR Spring Budget forecast round
  • ONS release on trust in Government in 2023
  • BRC economic briefing report
  • Flash Euro area inflation
  • UK manufacturing PMI
  • China manufacturing PMI
  • Results from: Rightmove, IMI, Kroger, Daimler Truck Holding

Anniversaries and awareness days

February 26

  • Eating Disorders Awareness Week (to March 3)

February 27

  • 10 years ago: Crimean parliament seized
  • International Polar Bear Day
  • National Strawberry Day

February 28

  • Global Scouse Day

February 29

  • Four years ago: US-Taliban peace agreement signed
  • Rare Disease Day

March 1

  • International Women of Colour Day
  • Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD)
  • Big Yellow Friday
  • Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
  • Women’s History Month
  • Brain Tumour Awareness Month
  • Scottish Tourism Month
  • Dechox

March 2

  • Dr Seuss Day

March 3

  • World Hearing Day
  • International Sex Workers’ Rights Day

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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