Boris Johnson is considering delaying the next stage of lockdown restrictions being lifted by up to four weeks, new reports are claiming.
The final stage of the lockdown road map is set for June 21st, however, after a recent surge in cases across the country – Greater Manchester, in particular – the Prime Minister has been under mounting pressure to push back the date.
Johnson has previously stressed that he will be using ‘data not dates’ to make his decisions on lockdown restrictions but, more recently, had said that there was ‘nothing in the data’ to suggest the now famed June 21st date should not be adhered to.
However, The Times reported last night that the Prime Minister is considering pushing back the lockdown easing by as much as four weeks, with Rishi Sunak reportedly accepting a delay in the roadmap.
It was reported that plans are currently being discussed for either a two-week or four-week delay thanks to the spike of the Delta variant, which accounts for 91% of new cases in the country.
For the lockdown easing to go ahead as normal on June 21st, four key tests have to passed, as outlined by the government in March.
The four tests are: if the vaccine deployment programme is continuing successfully; whether vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospital admissions and deaths in those vaccinated; if infection rates risk a surge in hospital admissions which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS; and whether the government’s assessment of the risks is fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
By Step 4, which will take place no earlier than June 21st, the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.
Johnson is expected to make an announcement on Monday, June 14th, after chief scientists have presented the latest scientific data on the pandemic to him.
Kurt Zouma charged with three offences over cat kicking videos
The footballer was filmed abusing his cat at the start of this year
Kurt Zouma has been charged with three offences under the Animal Welfare Act after he was filmed kicking his pet cat.
The charges are in relation to the now-infamous videos that showed the West Ham footballer abusing the cat.
Kurt is accused of two counts of causing ‘unnecessary suffering’ to the cat by kicking it in the abdomen and slapping it in the head.
He is also charged with failing to protect the cat from ‘pain suffering, injury or disease’.
His brother and fellow footballer Yoan has also been charged for his involvement in the incident, which he filmed and posted onto Snapchat.
Yoan is accused of two counts of ‘aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring’ Kurt to commit the offence of causing unnecessary suffering to the cat.
The brothers are set to appear at Thames Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (May 24th) for a preliminary hearing following a joint investigation from the RSPCA and Essex Police.
After the video started circulating on social media in February, the RSPCA removed two cats from Kurt’s home and began liaising with Essex Police about the incident.
In a statement at the time of the video’s circulation, the RSPCA said: “The two cats are now in RSPCA care. Our priority is and has always been the wellbeing of these cats.
“They’ve been taken for a check-up at a vets and then will remain in our care while the investigation continues.
“We’re grateful to everyone who expressed their concern for these cats. We were dealing with this issue before the video went viral online and are leading the investigation.
“We continue to investigate so we cannot comment further at this time.”
Sue Gray report set to be ‘published in full next week’ as partygate investigation ends
The police announced the end of their investigation today
The long-awaited Sue Gray report into Downing Street misconduct during the Covid pandemic is due to be published in full next week as the police’s investigation concludes.
The report – which investigated a series of alleged breaches of Covid lockdown in 10 Downing Street and Whitehall – was completed in January, but the publication of the full document was delayed at the request of the Metropolitan Police as they completed their own investigation.
But today, the police announced their inquiry into Downing Street lockdown breaches has come to an end, meaning Gray’s report could be published as soon as next week.
A source close to Gray and her team said she now intends to publish her report ‘as soon as possible’, adding that it could come as early as next week, according to The Independent.
The shortened version of Gray’s report noted that there was a ‘serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government, but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time’.
Gray also stated that because the Government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is ‘difficult to justify’.
Stand-out points from the report include:
- There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times.
- The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time.
- The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the Prime Minister and the private residents of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street.
- The leadership structures are fragmented and complicated and this has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability.
- Some staff wanted to raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work but at times felt unable to do so.
The police’s investigation resulted in a total of 126 fines, known as Fixed Penalty Notices, being issued for events across eight different dates.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were both fined for their involvement in parties and events held during the lockdowns.
Twenty-eight people have been issued with more than one fine, the force added.
Full judicial review into inquest of Yousef Makki granted by judge
A judge has granted permission for a full judicial review into the inquest of Burnage schoolboy Yousef Makki.
The family of the seventeen-year-old – who died after being stabbed by friend Joshua Molnar in Hale Barnes in 2019 – called for a review to overturn the coroner’s verdict on his death, which failed to conclude whether he had died either unlawfully or accidentally.
An application was made to High Court by a QC acting for Yousef’s father, Ghaleb Makki and, today (May 18th), at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre, the review was granted.
Yousef’s father said of the decision: “There’s still a long way to go, but it’s a small step in the right direction.”
Matthew Stanbury, representing the Makki family, claimed the coroner’s ruling was ‘inevitable’ due to the failure to analyse and ‘grapple’ with central issues in the case.
Mr. Stanbury said: “Today is a significant step forward and we are optimistic about getting a fresh inquest.”
Yousef died after being fatally stabbed in the heart by Joshua following an argument on the evening of March 2nd 2019.
The former public school student had met Joshua at Manchester Grammar School, where he had won a bursary to attend.
Joshua, who comes from a wealthy family in Hale, later admitted to stabbing Makki with a knife he had bought online ‘with ease’ during a school break time.
However, a jury acquitted Joshua, now twenty, of murder and manslaughter later that year, with him instead been handed a sixteen-month detention and training order after admitting possessing the knife which inflicted the fatal injury and lying to police at the scene.
He says he acted in self-defence, alleging Yousef pushed and punched him and called him ‘p*ssy’.
Following November’s inquest, Senior South Manchester Coroner Alison Mutch recorded a narrative conclusion, saying: “Yousef died from complications of a stab wound to chest.
“The precise circumstances in which he was wounded cannot, on balance of probabilities, be ascertained.”
The family’s formal application argued the coroner’s ruling was ‘unreasonable’ as it ‘failed to address or make findings on central matters in the case such as to enable her to reach a conclusion – on the balance of probabilities – as to the lawfulness of the killing’.