Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Tributes to Sarah Everard, rows over AstraZeneca and Nokia cuts jobs

20 March 2021

9:00 AM

20 March 2021

9:00 AM


A Metropolitan Police officer, Wayne Couzens, 48, was charged with the kidnap and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who was last seen on 3 March as she walked home from Clapham to Brixton. A mass vigil on Clapham Common was called off after the High Court declined to interfere with a police ban on the event in accord with coronavirus regulations. The Duchess of Cambridge came alone and left some daffodils at the bandstand. Women who stayed in their hundreds saw police struggle with women who refused to leave the bandstand. There were four arrests and pictures of policemen subduing one of them, Patsy Stevenson, on the floor fed a widespread anger against the police. Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said: ‘What has happened makes me more determined, not less, to lead my organisation.’ Murray Walker, the Formula 1 commentator, died aged 97.

Labour said it would oppose at second reading the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would give police powers to limit the duration of static demonstrations, as they can do already with marches. Mike Hill said that he had resigned as the Labour MP for Hartlepool. An integrated review of defence and foreign policy put the focus on Indo-Pacific countries and reversed a reduction of nuclear warheads to 180, setting the number at 260 instead. In January, UK goods exports to the European Union had fallen by 40.7 per cent, the Office for National Statistics said, and imports by 28.8 per cent. The Financial Conduct Authority started criminal proceedings against NatWest for allegedly failing to comply with money-laundering rules over an account receiving cash deposits of £264 million between 2011 and 2016. Uber said it would give drivers a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions. The Duke of Edinburgh returned to Windsor Castle after four weeks in hospital.

At dawn on 13 March, total UK deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus) stood at 125,464, including 1,045 in the past week, down by 32.2 per cent on the week before. First-dose vaccines totalled 23,684,103, and during the week the proportion of adults vaccinated approached 50 per cent. In English primary schools, 95 per cent of pupils were attending by the beginning of the week. In Cardiganshire, population 72,695, only six people had been found with coronavirus in the seven days to 8 March. Having a haircut was made legal in Wales.


The total in the world who had died with coronavirus reached 2,656,229 by the beginning of the week. Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and Ireland joined them, after reports of blood clots, even though the number reported in vaccinated people was no higher than in the general population. Then Germany, France, Spain and Italy piled in with their own suspension of its use, awaiting a report from the European Medicines Agency. Italy had shortly before blocked the export of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia because it wanted them itself. Schools, shops and restaurants would shut in more than half of Italy until after Easter; over Easter there would be a national shutdown. The greater Paris region was anxious about levels of hospitalisation with Covid. Water cannon and mounted police were used to disperse several thousand anti-lockdown protestors in the Hague.

In Burma, at least 14 protestors were killed when security forces opened fire in Yangon. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was given a 20-minute hearing at Tehran’s revolutionary court and told she would receive a verdict within a week on charges of spreading propaganda against the regime. Islamists were reported to have beheaded children as young as 11 in the province of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique. The UN launched a $1 billion appeal to bring aid to millions in northern Nigeria who had fled from Boko Haram. The Afghan education ministry investigated a ban by the director of education in Kabul on girls older than 12 singing in public. The parliament in Sri Lanka was asked by the security ministry to ban the burka and other face coverings in public.

Facebook agreed to pay Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia for news content. Nokia, the Finnish telecoms company, is to cut between 5,000 and 10,000 jobs worldwide in the next two years. Nebraska declared 20 March ‘Meat on the Menu Day’ in response to Colorado’s appeal to residents not to eat meat that day. CSH

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