Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Weinstein convicted, Harry and Meghan answer back, and coronavirus spreads in Europe

29 February 2020

9:00 AM

29 February 2020

9:00 AM

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The government told Britons returning from 11 quarantined towns in northern Italy to isolate themselves, for fear of spreading Covid-19, the contagious coronavirus fever. Random testing began at 11 hospitals. Thirty British and two Irish passengers from the cruise ship Diamond Princess quarantined at Yokohama had been flown to Britain and sent for another fortnight’s quarantine in the Wirral. The price of first-class stamps is to go up on 23 March from 70p to 76p. The EU disclosed its negotiating position on a trade agreement with the United Kingdom, saying in a strange sing-song formula that it ‘should uphold common high standards, and corresponding high standards over time with Union standards as a reference point’.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse dismissed claims made by Tom Watson of a ‘powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No. 10’ but said that a blind eye had been turned to the evil, as in the case of the late Cyril Smith, a Liberal MP; Lord Steel, the former Liberal leader, left the Liberal Democrats in response. The Revd Canon Dr Jeremy Morris ‘voluntarily stepped back’ from being Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, after criticisms of his handling of a case in which a male student was accused of rape, which he denied. Wilfred De’Ath, who wrote a column about being homeless, died aged 82. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex posted on their website SussexRoyal.com a rambling response to a statement by Buckingham Palace on their withdrawal of a copyright application for the name Sussex Royal. ‘There is not any jurisdiction by the monarchy or cabinet office over the use of the word “royal” overseas,’ it said. Daniel Horton, 29, appeared in court accused of causing grievous bodily harm by stabbing Raafat Maglad, aged 70, during afternoon prayers at Regent’s Park mosque.

Abroad


At the beginning of the week the total number of deaths in China from Covid-19 was 2,618, out of 79,331 reported cases. The annual meeting of China’s parliamentary gathering, the National People’s Congress, was postponed. Iran’s Deputy Health Minister, Iraj Harirchi, announced that he had contracted Covid-19 a day after appearing on television denying that 50 people had died from the virus in the pilgrimage city of Qom. South Korea reported more than 900 cases, and deaths in double figures. Venice cut short its carnival by two days as about 50,000 people in several towns in the Veneto and Lombardy were put in quarantine; cases spread across Europe. People threw stones at evacuees from Wuhan when they arrived at a health spa in Novi Sanzhary in central Ukraine. A thousand guests in a hotel in Tenerife were forbidden from leaving. Thousands more were stranded in the Canary Islands when sand blown from the Sahara closed airports for the weekend.

In the Iranian elections the principalists or conservatives won a landslide, partly because reformist candidates were barred from standing; turnout was only 42.6 per cent. Another peace agreement was signed in South Sudan after six years of civil war, which has seen 400,000 killed. Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt from 1981 to 2011, died aged 91. Thomas Thabane, the Prime Minister of Lesotho, appeared in court to answer charges of murdering his wife in 2017. A 43-year-old German, named by the authorities only as Tobias R, shot dead nine people at shisha bars in Hanau, and was found dead next to his mother’s body; he had a firearms licence. Jean Vanier, who died aged 90 last year, the founder of L’Arche, a network of small communities for people to live with the intellectually disabled, had ‘emotionally abusive’ sexual relationships with six adult women (not disabled) between 1970 and 2005, according to an investigation commissioned by the organisation.

The EU budget was rejected by four countries described as frugal (Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Holland), which thought it too big, and 17 beneficiaries, which thought it too small. Harvey Weinstein was convicted of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act. Roger Stone, a long-time political backer of President Donald Trump, was sentenced to 40 months in jail for lying to the House Intelligence Committee about WikiLeaks and Hillary Clinton. Three nights of rioting in Delhi over citizenship laws unfavourable to Muslims left at least 21 dead. Josipa Lisac, a singer aged 70, was denounced to the criminal courts for the way she sang the national anthem at the inauguration of the new president of Croatia. CSH

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