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BBC scandal 1) Dowden calls for changes…

“The culture secretary today accuses the BBC of having a “we know best attitude” in the wake of the Martin Bashir scandal, and says that the corporation must change to represent all of Britain. Oliver Dowden says that the BBC is guilty of “groupthink” and needs to “project British values” if it is to survive competition from the streaming giants Netflix and Amazon. Writing in The Times, he calls for deep change to ensure that it stays in tune with “all parts of the nation it serves”, saying that the scandal has “exposed failures that strike at the heart of our national broadcaster’s values and culture”. In his first full comments on how the report into Panorama’s interview in 1995 with Diana, Princess of Wales will affect the long-term future of the organisation, Dowden writes that the government will not “stand idly by”.” – The Times

  • MPs set to quiz BBC bosses over Bashir row – Daily Telegraph
  • Bashir’s ex-employers urged to look into other celebrity scoops – The Times

BBC scandal 2) … as he writes: the “BBC needs to a shine a light on its failings”

“Lord Dyson’s thorough investigation has exposed failures that strike at the heart of our national broadcaster’s values and culture. Long-serving employees of the BBC — people who have worked there their entire lives — have described the shame they feel about the revelations. The BBC must act quickly to restore trust and reassure the country that it will shine a light on any other areas falling short of the high standards we rightly expect from it. The new leadership deserves credit for having set up an independent investigation and accepting Lord Dyson’s findings in full and I expect them to act swiftly on all his recommendations.” – The Times

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Gove backs report on shaking up Whitehall mandarins

“Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, has backed the findings of a new report advocating broad-ranging reform of the UK’s civil service, with a focus on wider recruitment and more accountability for senior officials. The Johnson government is planning a shake up of Whitehall in the wake of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, and a white paper on civil service reform is expected to set out plans to reform the permanent structures of the state. Government Reimagined, published on Monday by the influential think-tank Policy Exchange, sets out 10 criteria for improving the civil service with faster adoption of technology and recruitment of officials from “a wide range of backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives.” The report states that greater emphasis should be put on performance rather than seniority, with pay rewards for those who develop professional qualifications. Its findings were endorsed by Gove, who is leading the Whitehall reform agenda.” – FT

Coronavirus 1) Government’s response was a ‘bodged plan B amid utter chaos’, Cummings says

“Boris Johnson was forced into a “bodged” Covid plan because the government did not realise its initial strategy would cost hundreds of thousands of lives and lead to an economic disaster, Dominic Cummings has claimed. The prime minister’s former chief adviser claimed in a series of posts on Twitter over the weekend that the government’s initial pandemic goal was to achieve herd immunity by last September. He said today that the “whole ‘flatten the curve’ plan A was to get herd immunity by summer & avoid 2nd peak during annual NHS winter crisis”. But he claimed that in the week of March 9 last year it became clear that Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and the Cabinet Office, did not understand “herd immunity effects: 100s of 1,000s choking to death + no NHS for *anybody* for months + dead unburied + econ implosion; so we moved to Plan B: suppression + Manhattan Project for drugs/vaccines + test&trace etc”.” – The Times

Analysis:

  • Cummings’ damning accusations stand up to scrutiny? – The Times

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Coronavirus 2) Confidence growing over June 21 all-clear

“Coronavirus restrictions are almost certain to be lifted next month with signs that the growth in the Indian variant may be levelling off, according to a health expert. Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said yesterday that she was “increasingly confident” that the vaccines would work well against the variant. Public Health England has estimated that the strain may already account for most cases across the country but that two doses of vaccine offer similar levels of protection against it as against the Kent variant. A single dose appears, however, to offer less protection against catching it than the Kent strain. Boris Johnson is confident that all social distancing can end as planned on June 21 and is hoping that data on hospital admissions in variant hotspots will confirm early this week that the strain does not risk overwhelming the NHS.” – The Times

  • Covid jabs for under-30s ‘by the end of the week’ – Daily Mail
  • Labour calls for more Covid travel controls – The Times
  • Anthony Fauci calls for inquiry into Wuhan laboratory’s Covid role – The Times
  • Covid in India: Modi has betrayed us, say doctors – The Times
  • Patients wait three years for NHS dentist – The Times
  • Cancer crisis ‘replacing Covid emergency’ as 300,000 miss urgent checks – Daily Telegraph

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Patel 1) Home Secretary unveils ‘radical plan’ to stop illegal immigration

“Only a radical overhaul of the immigration system that “slams the door on dangerous criminals” will meet the demands of the British people, Priti Patel will say today. The home secretary will promise to deliver a “wholesale reform” of immigration rules and border controls. She will pledge to create “the world’s most effective border system” by implementing a “fully digital border” by 2025. All visitors to the UK will have to pay about £9 for a US-style electronic travel authorisation (ETA) to ensure that the authorities can carry out security and criminal checks before they arrive. The digital revolution of borders will enable the government to count the number of people entering and leaving the country. A new policy statement will outline plans to simplify the application process for work visas for migrants and employers. It will set out details of how the government will simplify more than 500 pages of immigration rules.” – The Times

  • Patel ‘considers appointing senior QC or retired judge to oversee fresh probe into Scotland Yard’s disastrous VIP paedophile inquiry – Daily Mail

Patel 2) Facebook could be hit with fines if MI5 is denied access to secret messages

“Facebook could be fined if British spies are denied access to messages on the tech giant’s apps, it emerged yesterday. Priti Patel warned that the social media firm was operating in ‘dangerous territory’ and risking public safety with its plans for stronger encryption. With ‘end-to-end encryption’, messages on Facebook Messenger and Instagram would only be visible to the sender and receiver. The Home Secretary is concerned the move could block hundreds of counter-terrorism investigations, and prevent police intercepting other crimes including child sexual exploitation.  The Security Service and the police want Facebook to be able to see users’ content and share it with authorities if necessary. Miss Patel told Times Radio yesterday: ‘We’ll bring changes, we will legislate [and] we will absolutely fine companies because this is a dangerous territory for Facebook to be operating in.’” – Daily Mail

Johnson and Symonds ‘will celebrate their wedding’ next summer

“Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds will “celebrate their wedding” next summer, The Sun can reveal. The Prime Minister, 56, and his fiancée, 33, have sent save-the-date cards to family and friends for a lavish bash on Saturday, July 30, 2022. The couple got engaged in late 2019 but, like thousands of other loved-up Brits, have had to delay plans because of Covid. Details of exactly where the couple will say “I do” remain a closely guarded secret, but pals say they are waiting until next year for a big celebration to be on the safe side. BoJo is expected to announce that the lockdown cap of 30 guests at weddings will be lifted next month. However, friends of the couple say the fight against the virus, and getting the country bouncing back from the pandemic, means this summer is too soon for their big knees-up. Early contenders as a location for the party include the PM’s country pile Chequers in Buckinghamshire, or the Port Lympne safari park in Kent, where Carrie works.” – The Sun

Prince William charms the Scots on royal tour to ‘shore up’ Union

“The Duke of Cambridge has continued his charm offensive in Scotland during a week-long tour that is being seen as an opportunity to “shore up the Union”. Prince William visited a care home yesterday where a 96-year-old resident asked him to give her a kiss. Betty Magee, 96, a great-grandmother, ex-servicewoman and resident of Queen’s Bay Lodge in Edinburgh, told him: “It’s customary in these parts to give a lady a kiss on the cheek.” He replied: “Oh you are sweet. You’ll make me blush.” Magee persisted, asking him to give her a peck as William laughed and covered his face in mock embarrassment. “When the rules relax more I will come back and give you a kiss on the cheek, Betty,” he said, before quipping: “Is there whisky in your tea?”” – The Times

  • SNP official tells Europe ‘Scotland hates the UK too’ after Eurovision entry flops – Daily Telegraph

Troubles cases to last years, Northern Ireland veterans told

“Hundreds of veterans who served in Northern Ireland face the threat of prosecution for incidents during the Troubles as investigators wade through case files from the Ministry of Defence. Figures released by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) show that detectives have a caseload of 1,419 deaths, of which 289, more than 20 per cent, involved the military. Only 9 per cent of deaths have been attributed to the military during the Troubles. The figures will fuel concerns that the investigations will focus disproportionately on the armed forces. The cases will continue to be investigated — and potentially lead to prosecutions — until the government puts forward legislation to stop them.” – The Times

Equalities watchdog pulls out of Stonewall diversity scheme amid row over transgender activism

“The equalities watchdog has pulled out of a Stonewall diversity scheme amid a row over transgender activism. The Equality and Human Rights Commission left the LGBT charity’s Diversity Champions programme in March after citing concerns over “value for money”. More than 850 organisations are currently part of the scheme, which seeks to ensure the acceptance of all LGBT employees through its Workplace Equality Index. “As a publicly funded organisation we have to ensure that we are making the best choices when it comes to our budget and are currently reviewing all of our memberships,” the EHRC said in a statement.” – Daily Telegraph

Black rights activist Sasha Johnson shot in head after facing death threats

“A leading black rights campaigner was in a critical condition in hospital after being shot in the head, her fellow activists said last night. Sasha Johnson, a mother of two, is understood to have received numerous death threats owing to her activism. The Taking the Initiative Party (TTIP) said that she was shot in Consort Road, Peckham, southeast London. Officers from Trident, the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, who are leading the investigation, appealed for information. No arrests have been made. The Metropolitan Police said that a 27-year-old woman was shot shortly before 3am at a gathering. TTIP posted a message on its Facebook page saying that Johnson had been subject to numerous death threats.” – The Times

Labour 1) Tearful Starmer opens up in ITV Life Stories interview with Piers Morgan

“The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer broke down in tears during a television interview with Piers Morgan, as he described a series of family tragedies including his mother’s debilitating illness. In the interview,to be broadcast on June 1, Starmer recounted how his mother, Josephine, a life-long Labour supporter, died weeks before he was sworn in as an MP in 2015 and never got to see him in office. The MP, 58, also described how his father largely gave up on life and became a recluse after his wife’s death, saying: “When she died, it broke him. She was his whole life.” Starmer was speaking on ITV’s Life Stories with Piers Morgan, in an effort to boost his appeal after disappointing results in the May local elections and the party’s loss of Hartlepool for the first time since 1959 in a by-election.” – The Times

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Labour 2) Jo Cox’s sister selected as candidate for Batley and Spen by-election

“The sister of murdered MP Jo Cox has been selected by the Labour party to run in her former seat. Kim Leadbeater was last night selected as the Labour candidate for the Batley and Spen by-election, which will take place in July. The vote will be seen as a major test for Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, after the recent humiliating byelection defeat in Hartlepool. Last week Diane Abbott said that failure in the West Yorkshire stronghold should spell “curtains” for Sir Keir.  Ms Leadbeater, 44, said she was “overwhelmed and humbled by the support” from members in Batley and Spen. She said: “I’m ready to hit the ground running and take Labour’s campaign to local people.” During an online hustings meeting yesterday afternoon Ms Leadbeater said she was a “proud Yorkshire woman” and “the candidate the Tories fear”.” – Daily Telegraph

Anger after Ryanair flight ‘hijacked’ by Lukashenko to arrest dissident

“Britain said that the dictator of Belarus faced “serious consequences” after he scrambled a fighter jet to force a Ryanair flight carrying a fugitive critic to land in the capital yesterday. The plane, carrying 171 passengers from Greece to Lithuania, was nearing the end of its journey when its crew was warned by Belarusian air traffic control that there had been a report of a bomb on board. The pilot of the MiG-29 ordered to intercept the airliner signalled that it should land in Minsk. When it did, the opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, 26, was arrested by state security service officers. He could face the death sentence after being accused of organising protests against President Lukashenko.” – The Times

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