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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 June 2023

1

Covid legal stand-off

Oppositions MPs and bereaved families have condemned the government’s unprecedented high court bid to avoid handing over Boris Johnson’s unredacted WhatsApp messages and diaries to the public inquiry into the handling of Covid. Rishi Sunak was accused by Labour and the Liberal Democrats of a “cover-up” and a “cowardly” attempt to obstruct the inquiry. The government is likely to lose the case, said science minister George Freeman, but he insisted that “people’s privacy is really important”.

Is Boris Johnson tearing the Conservative Party apart?

2

Congress agrees debt deal

The US Congress has agreed a deal to lift the country’s borrowing limit, just days before the world’s largest economy was due to default on its debt. The bipartisan measure passed the Senate by a vote of 63-36, a day after it cleared the US House of Representatives. President Joe Biden said he will pass the measure into law, meaning he will spare the US from a default on its $31.4tn (£25tn) debt. Suspending the debt limit through to 2025 “takes the threat of default off table until after the presidential election”, said CNN.

3

Schofield denies grooming

Phillip Schofield has denied grooming after admitting to having an affair with a younger colleague. Speaking to The Sun, the former host of This Morning insisted he “did not” groom the man, said he would “die sorry” and added that his “greatest apology” over the fallout from the affair was to the young man. In a separate interview with the BBC, Schofield said his Twitter interactions with the younger male some time before he joined This Morning were “completely innocent”.

Nick Cohen, Phillip Schofield and British media’s own #MeToo reckoning

4

New hail cancer breakthrough

A blood test for more than 50 types of cancer has shown significant promise in a major NHS trial. The test correctly revealed two out of every three cancers among 5,000 people who had visited their GP with suspected symptoms, a development that the BBC said is “exciting scientists”. The Galleri test looks for distinct changes in bits of genetic code that leak from different cancers. Dr David Crosby, from Cancer Research UK, said the findings “suggest this test could be used to support GPs to make clinical assessments”.

Five good-news cancer breakthroughs in 2023

5

Biden fall revives age fears

Concerns about the physical condition of Joe Biden have been revived after the US president fell to the floor as he finished giving out diplomas at an air force graduation ceremony. As the 80-year-old turned to leave the stage in Colorado Springs, he seemed to catch his footing and tumbled to the floor, causing several officials to rush to help him to his feet. Commenting on the incident, former president and 2024 challenger Donald Trump said it was “not inspiring” that Biden fell during a military graduation. The White House said the president is “fine”.

Can Joe Biden win again in 2024?

6

Pleasure cruiser focus of beach probe

A restored pleasure cruiser is at the heart of a criminal investigation into a tragedy involving the deaths of two children on Bournemouth beach, said The Telegraph. The Dorset Belle has been impounded by police after a man in his 40s, described as being “on the water” at the time, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter. However, reported the BBC, the 12-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy who died after being pulled from the sea off Bournemouth beach were not hit by any vessels, said police.

7

Accused MPs could be banned

MPs and peers accused of violent or sexual offences face would be banned from Westminster under new rules due to be approved within weeks. The Commons will vote on proposals to bar colleagues from entering the parliamentary estate or joining taxpayer-funded trips if they are being investigated by police over serious wrongdoing. Parliamentary staff have called for the plans to go further, but one MP was warned that the proposals would “create open season for vexatious claims from staff and the public”.

8

Amazon settles spying case

An employee used Amazon’s Ring cameras to spy on 81 female users in their bedrooms and bathrooms, said the US Federal Trade Commission. Officials said that a number of staff members used the company’s smart home cameras – intended to allow people to watch their own homes when they are away – to watch people without their knowledge. Amazon said it “disagrees” with the FTC’s claims but the company and a subsidiary have agreed to pay millions to settle two separate privacy cases.

9

Cosby faces rape accusation

A former actress who claims that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her and another woman at his home in 1969 is suing under a new California law that suspends the statute of limitations on sex abuse claims. The woman says the actor forced himself on her after giving her two pills that made her feel helpless. However, a spokesperson for Cosby told TMZ that the “media needs to vet Victoria Valentino cautiously and carefully – because she has changed her alleged accounts of sexual abuse at the hands of Cosby over 10 to 15 times”.

Jul 21: Explained: why Bill Cosby is walking free after sexual assault conviction

10

Teen wins spelling bee

A 14-year-old boy from Florida has won the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee in the US. Dev Shah, a student from Largo, spelled “psammophile” correctly to win the 95th national bee and land the $50,000 (£40,000) prize. A psammophile is an organism that lives in sandy areas. “It’s surreal… my legs are still shaking,” said Shah as he accepted the prize. His mother said she was “very proud” of him. He had previously had tied for 51st place in 2019 and finished tied for 76th in 2021.

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