News diary 19-25 April: Queen turns 95, Oscars held in-person and Press Freedom Index updated

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

Monday

The trial of Peter Metcalf, Donald Denton, and Alan Foster, who are charged with perverting the course of justice over the Hillsborough disaster, begins at a Nightingale court sitting at the Lowry Theatre in Salford. All are accused of altering witness statements following the 1989 stadium crush, which claimed the lives of 96 people. The repeatedly delayed trial, which begins just days after the 32nd anniversary of the disaster, is expected to conclude in early August.

Rishi Sunak addresses the opening day of the Innovate Finance summit, his first public appearance since avoiding a Labour attempt  to force him to answer questions in Parliament about the Greensill lobbying affair. The whiff of scandal is unlikely to taint the Chancellor’s appearance in the safe space of a virtual FinTech conference, though Boris Johnson’s admission at last week’s PMQs that he shares the opposition’s concerns suggest that Sunak may be required to confront the issue publicly before long.

Tuesday

Reporters Without Borders publishes its annual Press Freedom Index, looking at freedom of the press in 180 countries worldwide. The 2020 report ranked the UK 35th, citing the killing of Lyra McKee, a “disproportionate” prison sentence for Julian Assange, and threats to the BBC and Channel 4 during the 2019 election campaign as points of concern. In May, RSF accused the government of “fuelling a growing climate of hostility and public distrust in the media” over “vindictive” responses to pandemic reporting.

Apple’s springtime event returns after a Covid-enforced hiatus in 2020, and while fans may have to wait until later in the year for iPhone updates there are still plenty of rumours circulating about the products that could be unveiled today. Accessories have been a spring event staple in recent years, while new iPads and updates to Apple TV are also being tipped to feature for 2021.

Mark Drakeford takes centre stage as the BBC Wales “Ask the Leader” interviews continue ahead of the upcoming Welsh Parliament elections. Despite previously indicating that he would not see out a full second term if re-elected, Drakeford last week opened the door to staying on as First Minister until 2026 – an idea endorsed by Keir Starmer. Welsh Labour has made six “key pledges” heading in to the election, including introducing a “Real Living Wage”, the delivery of new low carbon homes, and an NHS and schools “catch up programme”.

Wednesday

The Queen turns 95, and will perhaps be glad that official celebrations won’t take place until June as the Royal family continues its official period of mourning for the Duke of Edinburgh. The traditional gun salutes from Hyde Park and the Tower of London were cancelled last year due to the pandemic, and may be called off again this year; June’s Trooping the Colour has already been downsized to a potential smaller parade in Windsor. However,  Britain’s longest serving monarch has already returned to Royal duties, attending the retirement ceremony for a senior royal official, and we may see more activity from the family after the mourning period officially ends on Friday.

The short race to become the next Lord Speaker concludes, with three candidates in the running to replace Lord Fowler when he steps down to focus on campaigning work at the end of the month. Fowler’s senior deputy, the former Labour MP John McFall, faces a challenge from former Labour chair Dianne Hayter and former Alliance Party leader John Alderdice, who would be the first Liberal Democrat to take on the role. The winner is expected to sit on the Woolsack for the first time on 4 May.

Russian president Vladimir Putin delivers his delayed annual address to lawmakers, though the Kremlin is keeping tight-lipped about what he plans to discuss. His speech comes following a flurry of international activity amid concerns over a  build-up of Russian forces at the border with Ukraine. It will also be his first such address since Joe Biden replaced Donald Trump as US president, and comes after the Biden administration unveiled new sanctions targeting Russia over its alleged role in the massive SolarWinds hack.

Thursday

World leaders gather virtually for a two-day climate summit hosted by the US. Kicking off on Earth Day, the summit is intended to galvanise international cooperation in tackling the climate crisis ahead of the COP26 summit in November. Though efforts to secure deals with major emitters including  China, India and Brazil remain unsuccessful, the US will seek to continue restoring its damaged reputation by touting its 2030 emissions reduction plan and successful negotiations with Japan, South Korea, and Canada.

A big week for Johnson & Johnson sees first quarter earnings released on Tuesday ahead of today’s annual meeting of shareholders. Shareholder groups questioned the company’s decision to sell its Covid vaccine at cost before the drug’s authorisation in February, and the strategy’s effect on share prices, particularly in light of the pause in the US and other territories, is likely to come in for further investor scrutiny.

Friday

Former Met Police Officer Ben Hannam is sentenced at the Old Bailey after being convicted of being a member of the banned National Action group. Hannam, the first serving British police officer to be convicted of a terrorism offence, worked as a probationary officer for two years before his links to the neo-Nazi organisation came to light. Hannam was also found guilty of lying on his Met Police vetting forms and possessing terrorist materials.

Luna Cinema in Liverpool is among a host of venues taking part in the government’s pilot events designed to gauge the feasibility of larger, non-socially distanced events taking place in the summer. An outdoor screening with up to 1,000 people is due on Liverpool’s Waterfront this weekend, though full details are still yet to be announced. The trials of large-scale, outdoor events come as ministers resist calls for a government-backed insurance scheme like the one being provided to the pilot participants.

Saturday

An 11-day international conference on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the UN, Turkey, and Qatar, opens in Istanbul. It comes as the US is pushing the Afghan government and the Taliban for an agreement following on from the one reached between the US and Taliban in Doha last February. Matters have been further complicated by Joe Biden’s controversial decision to extend the deadline for fully withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan from May to September, with the Taliban warning that the extension would violate the Doha deal.

Sunday

The rescheduled final of the Carabao Cup sees holders Manchester City take on Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley. The final was initially set to be left out of the Government’s test event programme but will now feature 8,000 fans, with 2,000 tickets given to each club and 4,000 to local residents and NHS workers.

The 93rd Academy Awards take place after a two-month delay. Unlike other awards shows this year, the Oscars will take place in person, with nominees attending in venues across the world, including London’s BFI Southbank. This year’s awards see Steven Yeun and Riz Ahmed become the first Asian American and Muslim actors to be nominated for best actor, though the prize is widely expected to be posthumously awarded to Chadwick Boseman. British actors dominating this year’s nominations include Sir Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Coleman and Daniel Kaluuya.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: PA Wire/Steve Reigate/Daily Express

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