It’s a busy day in London’s courts on Monday as two major trials get underway. At Southwark Crown Court, Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn faces charges of breaking the Official Secrets Act – only revealed after journalists successfully challenged reporting restrictions around the case – and of misconduct in public office. Hers is the first case to be brought to trial as a result of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Elveden, its investigation into alleged inappropriate payments to police.
Meanwhile, over at the Old Bailey, a retrial for Kevin Hutchinson-Foster is set to begin. Hutchinson-Foster is charged with possession of a firearm which police claim is the same gun found at the shooting of Mark Duggan. Duggan’s death prompted August 2011 rioting in Tottenham which soon afterwards engulfed several UK cities. The jury in Hutchinson-Foster’s first trial failed to reach a verdict back in October.
MPs return from the festive recess on Monday, and are welcomed with a backbench business debate on the controversial topic of corporate tax avoidance, an issue which may have prompted a few to strike their Amazon-delivered Google tablets off the Christmas list.
On Tuesday, a fresh inquest into the death of troubled singer Amy Winehouse, who was found dead in her London home in 2011, is scheduled to begin. The original inquest, led by Deputy Assistant Coroner Suzanne Greenaway, recorded a death of misadventure, but it later emerged that Greenaway did not have the required experience or qualifications to act as coroner.
As the Prime Minister prepares to make his much-vaunted speech on the European Union this month – with the possibility of a referendum promise being briefed - Foreign Secretary William Hague is up before the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday to give his take on the Government’s EU Policy. Hague has previously drawn fire from Tory backbenchers who believe he’s gone soft on Europe since the halcyon days of 2001. And there’s further Committee action elsewhere on Wednesday as the Home Affairs Committee grills Met chief Bernard Hogan-Howe on leadership in the police.
Across the pond, Wednesday sees extradited British businessman Christopher Tappin sentenced in the United States. Tappin, who had long protested his innocence to charges he sold batteries used in Iranian missiles, entered a guilty plea on November 1 to one count of aiding and abetting the illegal export of defence articles.
By Thursday, newspaper and magazine publishers and editors are set to have developed proposals for replacing the heavily-criticised Press Complaints Commission, with a meeting reportedly scheduled to discuss progress today.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is scheduled to unveil the programme for his fourth term in office in an address to lawmakers in Caracas on Thursday, though it’s unclear whether Chavez, who is currently recovering in a Havana hospital after undergoing surgery for cancer three weeks ago, will be fit to enough to take to the pulpit.
Retailers Marks and Spencer and Tesco will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow high street giants Next and John Lewis when they release financial results on Thursday. John Lewis’s 13% increase in like-for-like sales was particularly impressive, clearly attesting to the continuing power of the twee advert.
A debate on the Leveson report takes place in the House of Lords on Friday after the Government’s spokesman on Culture, Media and Sport, Viscount Young of Leckie, requested time for peers to discuss the report’s recommendations. The debate was initially scheduled for last month but was postponed when the third reading of the Crime and Courts Bill overran.
Czechs are due to go to the polls on Friday to vote in the country’s first direct presidential elections, with nine candidates seeking to replace Eurosceptic incumbent Vaclav Klaus. However, the vote faces a possible delay after a complaint was lodged by senator Tomio Okamura at the Czech Constitutional Court. Okamura, who was disqualified from running for the presidency after failing to secure enough verified signatures supporting his candidacy, claims that the law concerning presidential elections is unconstitutional.
On Saturday, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith takes a break from his benefits crusade to tackle gangs at a Centre for Social Justice think tank event. Meanwhile, Disraelian socialist Ed Miliband is set to take his One Nation roadshow to the Fabian Society’s annual New Year Conference, where the TUC’s new general secretary Frances O’Grady and ConservativeHome editor Tim Montgomerie are also due to speak.
The Brits are (still) coming! The Golden Globes, the traditional awards season bellwether, take place in Hollywood on Sunday and there are some home-grown names in the running, including elder stateswomen Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.
Finally, the first ever passenger journey on the Tube, which took place between Paddington and Farringdon in January 1863, is set to be recreated on Sunday as part of TfL’s celebrations to mark the service’s 150th anniversary.