National

‘No local lockdown’ in Covid hotspots and other stories

Council leaders in parts of the country badly hit by the Indian coronavirus variant have asserted that there will be “no local lockdowns” and no restrictions on travel in and out of their areas.

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This follows the confusion generated over new government guidance that was published without prior announcement on Friday for Bedford, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Hounslow, Kirklees, Leicester and North Tyneside.  

The guidance asked people not to travel in or out of these areas and not to meet indoors, meanwhile a Downing Street source denied that it was posing local lockdowns by stealth.

Following a meeting with national officials, the eight local councils released a statement confirming that there were “no local lockdowns” with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham requesting that the government ministers issue a formal clarification on the miscommunication that has had a “major effect on people’s lives.”

Bolton is currently experiencing its highest rate of Covid cases in 6 months at 452 cases per 100,000, Royal Bolton Hospital has said it is taking “urgent action” to manage the influx of Covid-19 patients.

BBC to investigate Bashir re-hire

BBC director Tim Davie has announced that the BBC is set to release a report next week outlining the findings of a “quick” investigation into the re-hire of journalist Martin Bashir.

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This follows Lord Dyson’s recent judgement that the corporation covered up Bashir’s use of faked bank statements to secure the Panorama interview with princess Diana in 1995.

Bashir was re-hired by the BBC in 2016 as a religion correspondent in a move that Mr Davie has now admitted was a “big mistake”.

Although currently working his three-month paid notice, a decision made prior to the release of the Dyson report, it has been confirmed that Bashir will not receive a pay-off nor an “honourable discharge” to ensure an honest investigation.

A full unconditional apology has been made by Mr Davie to whistleblower Matt Wiessler, who upon raising ethical concerns to BBC bosses surrounding Bashir’s methods, was cut out of working for the corporation.

Conservative MP faces suspension for sexual harassment

Delyn MP Rob Roberts faces a possible six-week suspension from parliament after it has been found by an independent panel that he sexually harassed a member of his staff.

The ex-staff member, who has requested to remain anonymous, has said that he felt “very uncomfortable” when repeatedly propositioned by the MP and was asked to be “less alluring”.

Upon requesting that the relationship stay professional, the ex-employee has said that the MP began to exhibit a “jealous behaviour,” which resulted in his staffer moving to a different role in the organisation before leaving parliament for good.

Following the panel’s judgement, the Delyn MP has apologised for his “completely improper” breach of trust “in the MP-staff relationship” and the spokesperson for No.10 has confirmed that Mr. Roberts now sits as an independent MP in the commons.

Labour and Plaid Cymru have called on Rob Roberts to “resign immediately” and have confirmed their support in efforts to pass legislation that removes him from his position.

Covid test events a ‘real success’ says Culture Secretary

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has labelled UK trial events a “real success” after more than 58,000 people took part in the trials and only 15 Covid cases were reported.

The events included in the tests ranged from the World Snooker Championships through to live music events, including the Brit Awards which revealed zero cases of Covid resulting from the event.

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Nine of the 15 cases reported were found across an audience of 6,000 who attended a night-club in Liverpool across two days, highlighting that clubbing proves to be the hardest aspect of nightlife in which to control safety.

Nevertheless, the low number of Covid cases across the board has ensured that Mr Dowden remains “hopeful” that by “June 21st we will be lighting up the West End again,” as laid out in the government’s roadmap for easing restrictions.

Mr Dowden also announced a second round of event trials with larger crowds and major venues that could determine whether Covid passports are used in a final push to open the live industry, whilst also preparing the government for the possibility of a new Covid surge or variant.

Lidl sued in copycat gin din

Lidl has been forcibly stopped from selling its own brand of gin after the Court of Session in Edinburgh heard that Lidl had changed the design of its Hampstead gin bottle to look like that of premium brand, Hendricks.

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Whilst Lidl has claimed “clear and obvious differences” between theirs and Hendrick’s spirit, the redesign of the Lidl bottle in late 2020 has led Lord Clark to contest there is “a sufficient basis to argue visual and conceptual similarity between the mark and the sign.”

Lord Clark has suggested the alteration was deliberate act by Lidl to create an association with the Hendricks product and “ride on the coat-tails” of the Hendricks mark.

A Lidl spokesman said that “although naturally disappointed… [Lidl]… have noted the court’s decision and have closely adhered to the ruling.”

This case follows Marks & Spencer’s legal action against Aldi last month over Aldi’s copycat caterpillar cake product.

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