News diary 5-11 July: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill returns, Jeff Bezos out as Amazon CEO and Grenfell survivors’ landmark claim - Press Gazette

News diary 5-11 July: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill returns, Jeff Bezos out as Amazon CEO and Grenfell survivors’ landmark claim

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

Monday 5 July

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill returns to the House of Commons with the government facing the prospect of further challenges to its plans to beef up police powers. The latest mass demonstration against the bill showed public opposition remains high, while the influential Joint Committee on Human Rights said in a recent report that key clauses in the Bill should be removed. The JCHR report was followed by a critical review of the policing of a Sarah Everard vigil and “Kill the Bill” protests by a cross-party group of MPs and Peers, which concluded that the Met and Avon and Somerset Police breached fundamental rights. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution proposed amendments for debate today, including the removal of what it calls “unnecessary” new powers.

St Paul’s Cathedral hosts a special commemorative service honouring the NHS frontline workers who have played a role in the fight against COVID-19. Organisers NHS England have said that staff will be “at the heart” of the service, which coincides with the NHS’ 73rd birthday. The guest list includes Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine co-designer Sarah Gilbert and Peter Horby, who helped run the NHS trial that found the effective dexamethasone treatment for COVID-19.

Jeff Bezos (pictured), the billionaire founder of Amazon, formally steps down as CEO of the company, 27 years to the day after the company was incorporated in 1994.  Although he will continue as Amazon’s executive chairman, Bezos plans to spend more time on his other interests, including his spaceship company Blue Origin. He has already announced plans fly on the first passenger flight of his Blue Shepard space tourism rocket on 20 July alongside his brother Mark and legendary aviator Wally Funk.

Tuesday

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick are among the opening-day speakers at the Local Government Association’s annual conference, this year focused on how local government has responded and adapted to the pandemic. Whitty’s afternoon address comes hours after the ONS releases annual mortality statistics from 2020, including deaths registered due to COVID-19, which will set out the official number of people who died in the first and second waves.

The survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster bring a landmark multi-million-pound legal claim before the High Court, just weeks on from the fourth anniversary of the blaze. Kensington and Chelsea Council are one of several organisations at the heart of the claim and are alleged to have caused or contributed to the disaster through their collective failings. The action runs parallel to the ongoing public inquiry into the fire, which claimed the lives of 72 people.

The Euro 2020 semi-finals take place today and tomorrow ahead of the final this weekend. First up is the winner of the quarterfinal between Switzerland and Spain against the winner of Belgium v Italy. Belgium was the only one of the four to win their first knockout match comfortably, with Spain and Italy needing extra time and Switzerland edging France on penalties. If England (whisper it) win their quarterfinal against Ukraine, they’ll face the winner of Denmark v Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Wednesday

Boris Johnson’s latest appearance before the Liaison Committee comes after a visit to Sunderland’s Nissan plant saw the Prime Minister deliver mixed messages on the return of international travel and plans for lifting restrictions later this month. The committee chairs are scheduled to quiz Johnson on Covid, COP26 and Brexit, leaving ample opportunity for questions on the Northern Ireland protocol, school Covid bubbles and child vaccinations, and the PM’s handling of the Matt Hancock scandal.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life publishes its review of the regulation of election finance in the UK, which was established last year to examine the role of the Electoral Commission as the regulator along with the work of the police and Crown Prosecution Service. The standards watchdog’s review is the first investigation into the Commission’s work since 2007, and while it will not cover political party funding, there will be reflections on foreign donations made via digital and social media ads.

A further hearing takes place in Durham as part of the inquest into the death of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe. The serial killer died last November after contracting coronavirus while serving a whole-life prison term for the murders of 13 women. A previous hearing in June saw the coroner request additional medical notes ahead of the full inquest, which begins on 22 September.

Thursday

The government’s much-criticised Test and Trace programme is placed under scrutiny once again as the scheme’s former chief, Dido Harding, is grilled by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee. The committee has previously lamented the “unimaginable” cost of Test and Trace, saying it failed on its central promise of preventing a second lockdown. How well Harding fares in her appearance in front of the committee could have knock-on effects on her bid to replace Sir Simon Stevens as NHS Chief Executive, though this is reportedly already less likely under the new Health Secretary.

The Cabinet Office is required to release polling on public attitudes toward the Union to Tommy Sheppard MP by today, following a Freedom of Information battle which began more than two years ago. The SNP MP’s FOIA request for polling dating back to January 2018 was refused and an appeal to the Information Commissioner rejected based on an exemption clause relating to policy development. A further appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal was successful, and the Cabinet Office was given 28 days to release the “secret” polling which Sheppard claims will show an increase in support for Scottish independence.

Friday

Wayne Couzens is expected to enter further pleas at the Old Bailey after being charged with the murder of Sarah Everard. The Met Police officer has already pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping the 33-year-old, but has not entered a formal plea to the charge of murder despite admitting responsibility for her killing. Everard went missing in March as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London and her body was discovered in Kent woodland a week later.

The OECD releases its biennial Government at a Glance report, which this year focuses on how governments have responded to the COVID-19 crisis. The OECD has previously warned the UK that the pandemic risks “exacerbating pre-existing weak productivity growth, inequalities, child poverty and regional disparities”, and the report should provide fodder for those keen to compare the UK’s performance to its European and trans-Atlantic neighbours.

The Church of England’s General Synod opens with presentations on the Church’s Racial Justice Commission and the National Investing Bodies’ approach to climate change. The RJC was set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to drive “significant cultural and structural change” to tackle racism within the Church; Justin Welby told the February Synod that there was “no doubt” that the CoE was still “deeply, institutionally racist”. In a more progressive area for the Church, its NIBs banned investment in nine companies last year, including Berkshire Hathaway, after they failed to meet the Church’s standards on climate change

Saturday

The British & Irish Lions continue their seemingly cursed tour of South Africa with a game against the Bulls in Pretoria. The tour to date has been beset by problems: the squad lost captain Alun Wyn Jones to injury before departure, opposition players have been forced to self-isolate, and a fresh national lockdown was introduced before the Lions had even touched down in the Rainbow Nation. Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has, however, dismissed growing calls for the remainder of the tour to be cancelled.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicks off in Texas, featuring high-profile speakers including potential 2024 presidential candidate Governor Kristi Noem and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Former President Donald Trump is set to deliver closing remarks tomorrow in a continued effort to reaffirm his position as de facto party leader, despite his organisation’s recent criminal indictment. Impassioned remarks on critical race theory and border security are to be expected, alongside the perpetual chance of a rant about the 2020 presidential election.

Sunday 11 July

Optimistic England fans will hope that after banishing their hoodoo over old rivals Germany, Gareth Southgate’s men will go all the way to the Euro 2020 Final at Wembley and bring football home, with the small matter of the quarter- and semi-finals still to be played. Despite nearly 400 returning Scotland fans testing positive for COVID-19 after their clash with England on 18 June,  some 60,000 spectators are allowed into the stadium for the final in what will be one of the largest crowds at a sporting event in the UK in over 15 months.

Centre Court hosts the men’s Wimbledon final with Novak Djokovic still on course for a record-equaling 20th grand slam title. Djokovic remains the firm favourite to join Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the pantheon of all-time greats, though the Serb is still behind both Federer (eight) and Pete Sampras (seven) for the record of most titles at SW19. One player who won’t be featuring in the final is French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, whose round one elimination provided the major shock of this year’s tournament.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

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