The week ahead: Hunt at Leveson, Julian Assange appeal and the Jubilee Pageant - Press Gazette

The week ahead: Hunt at Leveson, Julian Assange appeal and the Jubilee Pageant

It’s another mega-week at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, with inquiry veteran Tony Blair facing Robert Jay QC’s X-ray specs of justice on Monday. He’ll be grilled on whether the relationship between the press and politicians has grown too close, a subject on which a three-time Labour Prime Minister who is godfather to a press baron’s child may be able to shed just a little light. Former Times hack and current Education Secretary Michael Gove joins Home Secretary Theresa May for Tuesday’s evidence, while socialist firebrand and Murdoch-nemesis Vince Cable is up on Wednesday, followed by the less-than-Sun-kissed Justice Sec Ken Clarke. It’s embattled, under-fire, beleaguered Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s evidence on Thursday, however, that’s likely to be the most consequential.

Elsewhere on Monday, everyone’s favourite al-Qaeda endorsed hate-monger Abu Qatada has a bail hearing in the charming surroundings of London’s Field House Immigration Tribunal Centre. Qatada continues to fight attempts by the UK Government to deport him to Jordan on terror charges, having been re-arrested last month after reassurances were received from the Hashemite Kingdom that he wouldn’t face trial using evidence gained from torture. Although unlikely, a successful hearing on Monday could see Qatada released, automatically sorting Tuesday’s front pages.

After announcing that Premier Farnell’s Harriet Green is to take over as chief executive in July, Thomas Cook holds its AGM on Tuesday, and it’s not so much shareholder spring as in the bleak midwinter for the embattled travel operator which has issued three profit warnings in the past 18 months. A vote on proposals to shore up the company’s financial position takes place at the meeting before second quarter results are issued on Thursday.

Wednesday is judgement day this week, with two high profile cases reaching a conclusion: in London, the Supreme Court rules on Julian Assange’s appeal against his extradition to Sweden, while in the Hague the International Criminal Court hands down its sentence to former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Assange’s appeal questions the authority of a Swedish prosecutor to issue a European Arrest Warrant, arguing that the warrant is ‘unenforceable’ because the prosecutor was not a proper judicial authority. Should the appeal fail, Assange is sure to take recourse to the European Court of Human Rights. Meanwhile Charles Taylor, the first head of state to be found guilty by an international court since the Nuremberg trials, faces a possible 80-year jail term, despite claiming at a hearing earlier this month that witnesses were threatened and paid to testify against him and accusing Western powers of using the ICC to pursue colonial aims against African nations.

Industrialists, royalty, politicians and conspiracy theorists converge on the Virginian town of Chantilly on Thursday for the annual Bilderberg conference, where, the story goes, the powers that be discuss world domination and swap tips on the construction of top secret underground lairs. This year’s participants reportedly include Steering Committee members Mario Monti and Marcus Agius alongside Bill Gates, Joaquin Almunia, Tony Stark, Montgomery Burns and Dr Strangelove.

One man apparently not important enough for Bilderberg is Herman Van Rompuy; the European Council president and Huey Lewis fan is instead in London on Thursday to deliver a Chatham House lecture titled The Power of the Union.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe face questions on the alleged racism of London’s police officers when they appear before the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on Thursday, with the focus likely to be on the IPCC’s various investigations and the seven officers currently facing charges which range from a racially aggravated public order offence to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce are due to appear in court on Friday to enter a plea in their speeding points court case. Should Huhne choose to fight the charges against him he’ll be hoping to fare better in court than his partner Carina Trimingham, who last week lost a harassment case brought against Associated Newspapers.

A verdict is due on Saturday in the trial of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal, with the trio facing charges of premeditated murder, profiteering and squandering public funds during Mubarak père’s 30-year rule. The ruling, which comes in the midst of voting in the country’s first democratic presidential elections, with a run-off vote scheduled between Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi and former Mubarak regime man Ahmed Shafik next month, is likely to cause controversy whatever the outcome – prosecutors have demanded the death penalty for Mubarak, while some have dismissed the military trial as unfair.

Progressive futureheads FIFA have proven themselves to be ahead of the curve again with the announcement that goal line technology is to be tested during Saturday’s friendly between England and Belgium at Wembley. Only a year too late, Sepp. Meanwhile, underwear model and Billy Childish impersonator David Beckham is set to receive an award at half time for winning over 100 caps during a long and glittering international career.

After weeks of regional visits, luncheons and missile deployments, the big weekend is finally here: the pubs can stay open until a binge-tastic 1am! The reason for the Alcohol Strategy-baiting opening hours is, of course, the Diamond Jubilee Weekend, commemorating 60 years since the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. The first order of business is HRH’s annual pilgrimage to Epsom for the Derby on Saturday, but the fun really starts on Sunday with the Big Jubilee Lunch and the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, which will see The Queen and her retinue of royals leading a flotilla of vessels from the Empire Commonwealth along the Thames before crossing the Channel and landing at Normandy. Or West India Docks, if they stick to the planned route.

And finally, another royal anniversary falls on Sunday, although this one’s less likely to be celebrated as fervently by monarchists: it’s 75 years since Edward III (or the Duke of Windsor, as he was by then) married the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.



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