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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 April 2023

1

Overnight sailings amid Dover chaos

Ferry operators put on extra overnight sailings from the Port of Dover, as they worked through a backlog of Easter traffic. The BBC said that “strong winds, a large volume of coaches and slower processing times at border control” have been cited as causes for the hold ups at the port that left passengers stuck in Easter school-holiday traffic for hours on Saturday. An EU border at Dover means things were “gumming up”, said Simon Calder, travel correspondent at The Independent, as each individual passport had to be inspected and stamped after Brexit.

2

‘Blind spot’ on religious discrimination

A peer has argued that religion is a “blind spot” compared to race, sex and disability in workplace discrimination. Lord Alton, 72, a vice-president of the Catholic Union, warned that people of faith are being discriminated against at work, adding that they should not feel they need to conceal “an essential part of who they are”. A study by the Catholic Union found that 40% of people do not believe religious discrimination is taken as seriously as that against other protected characteristics such as age, race, sex and sexuality.

3

‘National scandal’ hits vulnerable kids

Some of Britain’s most vulnerable children are being moved to care homes hundreds of miles away from the neighbourhoods they grew up in, found The Observer. The paper said “shocking figures” show dozens of children from London alone are in foster or care homes more than 250 miles from the city, as councils battle a “significant shortfall” in provision. Clare Bracey, director of policy and campaigns at Become, a charity for care leavers and those still in care, said “this a national scandal and is getting worse”.

4

Activists plan to sabotage Grand National

A secret plan by more than 100 activists to disrupt the Grand National has been uncovered by the Mail on Sunday. The paper said that “militant vegans and animal rights campaigners” plan to use ladders and bolt cutters to storm security fences before the race at Aintree, then glue themselves together on the course. Animal rights campaigners say horseracing is cruel, pointing to the deaths of 2,587 horses on UK courses in the past 16 years. However, any delay or cancellation of the race would “provoke an international outcry”, said the paper.

5

More Brits held by Taliban

Three British nationals are currently being held in custody by the Taliban in Afghanistan, reported the BBC. Kevin Cornwell, 53, from Middlesbrough and another unnamed man were arrested in January. A third man was also arrested on a different date. The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office confirmed it was attempting to secure consular contact with the British nationals detained and was supporting their families. In June, five British nationals held by the Taliban for about six months were released.

6

Italy ‘to fine for use of English’

Italians who use English and other foreign words in official communications could face fines of up to €100,000 under new legislation proposed by the prime minister’s Brothers of Italy party. Fabio Rampelli, a member of the lower chamber of deputies, introduced the legislation, which is “particularly geared at ‘Anglomania’ or use of English words, which the draft states ‘demeans and mortifies’ the Italian language”, said CNN. The proposed law adds that use of English is even worse because the UK is no longer part of the EU.

7

Could staff sue bosses over offence?

“Draconian” laws will allow shop assistants, bar staff and doctors to sue their employers if a member of the public offends them at work. The Telegraph said Rishi Sunak is facing a Tory revolt over plans for new harassment rules that would enable “medics to sue the NHS if a patient insults them, allow bar staff to take legal action against landlords if they are offended by drunk punters, and let baristas take coffee shop owners to a tribunal if they overhear offensive remarks made by customers”. Senior Tories warned it would lead to a “police state”.

8

UK under pressure on Saudi execution

The British government has been accused of deliberately avoiding criticism of Saudi Arabia’s death penalty, reported the ipaper. Foreign Office minister Leo Docherty angered many MPs after telling the House of Commons that the recent execution of a man did not breach Saudi Arabia’s freeze on the death penalty for drug offences. Senior Tories and human rights campaigners are demanding “stronger” pressure on the Gulf nation in the future.

9

Schools may unite against Ofsted

The Observer said that school bosses want to launch a group judicial review against Ofsted, following claims that schools feel “powerless” to challenge unfair or inconsistent inspection judgments. According to headteachers, individual schools are generally put off pursuing a legal appeal against an Ofsted grading because of the costs involved. Therefore, a group judicial review of Ofsted, challenging inconsistencies in the way it inspects and judges schools, is being considered. Ofsted said there has been an “outpouring of anger” from schools across the country over the suicide of Berkshire headteacher Ruth Perry.

10

Author claims Cobain was murdered

An author said he had evidence that Kurt Cobain was murdered. The rock star’s death “rocked the world in 1994”, said The Mirror, “but the verdict of suicide has simply never sat right for many”. Ian Halperin, who has studied the case for decades, said paperwork shows the singer had “70 times the lethal dose of heroin in his system” when he was found with a gunshot wound to the head. Halperin claims it would have been “scientifically impossible” for the star to have been able to even lift the gun, let alone pull the trigger.

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