Tuesday briefing: Guilty Weinstein faces more charges

Mogul branded as rapist by New York verdict … alarm raised over forensic science lapses … and ‘poisonous’ climate in Boris Johnson’s Whitehall

Top story: ‘This is a momentous day’

Good morning – Warren Murray with Tuesday’s news neatly parcelled.

The dramatic conviction of Harvey Weinstein in New York for rape is only the beginning of the former movie mogul’s prosecution, with a further criminal case due to launch in Los Angeles stemming from eight allegations. In the most high-profile trial of the #MeToo movement yet, a New York jury on Monday found Weinstein guilty of third-degree rape for an attack in a New York hotel and guilty of a criminal sex act for forcing oral sex on a former television production assistant. Weinstein was taken away in handcuffs and could face 25 years in prison.

For now, an air of vindication prevails among Weinstein’s accusers and the #MeToo movement. “For the women who testified in this case, and walked through traumatic hell, you did a public service to girls and women everywhere, thank you. #ConvictWeinstein #Guilty,” tweeted Ashley Judd, an actor, activist and one of the first women to go on the record with Weinstein accusations for the New York Times.

Alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein in the UK are bringing their own cases against the former Hollywood producer – six have taken out civil compensation claims. The Hollyoaks star Lysette Anthony, who alleges Weinstein raped her at her London home in the 1980s, said: “This is a momentous day and this is the day that hiding behind vicious, petty, transactional defence was slaughtered.” Weinstein’s lawyers have said they will appeal in the New York case. He has denied all claims of non-consensual sex.

* * *

Court forensics ‘on knife-edge’ – Innocent people are being wrongly convicted and criminals escaping justice because the forensic science system is not meeting basic standards, the regulator has said. Dr Gillian Tully revealed that in England and Wales, not one CCTV image analyst met the required standard and she could not vouch for analysis that is meant to show if someone caught on camera was the same person as a suspect. “People are not fully tested according to international standards.” The current mishmash of private and public providers of forensic analysis came about in 2012 when the coalition government allowed the loss-making Forensic Science Service to collapse. Now Tully has told the Guardian the service has been “on a knife-edge” for years and after seven years the government has failed to deliver on a promise of enforceable standards.

* * *

Red wall of ill health – Life expectancy has stalled for the first time in more than 100 years and even reversed for the most deprived women in society as the gap in health equality widens, with austerity largely to blame, according to a review. Health has worsened in many of the “red wall” constituencies in the north of England that backed Brexit and returned Boris Johnson to power by voting Conservative for the first time. For example, in Heywood and Middleton, depression, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease all exceed the England average. And 21% of Heywood and Middleton is classed as “highly deprived”, compared with 0% in the PM’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency. Separately, forecasting shows economies of Britain’s smaller towns are set to fall further behind the biggest cities over the next three years unless greater action is taken. The UK has some of the worst regional economic unbalance of the world’s developed countries, say accountants EY.

* * *

Covid-19 cases build in Middle East – Fears are growing that coronavirus has infiltrated a main Muslim pilgrimage route, including the city of Qom, amid increasing alarm that Iranian officials have been slow to realise Covid-19 has taken root. A local news agency in the city tweeted: “Don’t come to Qom and no one should get out of Qom. Qom should be closed. We need a lot of medical help here.” Iranian officials have scrambled to deny 50 deaths in Qom, saying there were 47 infections and 12 deaths across Iran “so far”. In Najaf, Iraq, the Imam Ali mosque was closed and disinfected after a worshipper was found to be infected. There are fears of the virus proliferating because of Iraq’s very weak health system. South Korea is to test 200,000 members of a sect that is believed to be at the centre of that country’s outbreak, while in Japan a fourth passenger form the Diamond Princess cruise ship has died. China says its scientists has developed a vaccine for Covid-19 that has potential for mass production. More at our live blog.

* * *

Met accepts undercover complaint – A police investigation has found there was credible evidence that onetime undercover officer Andy Coles deceived a 19-year-old woman into a sexual relationship. Three years ago Coles resigned as the deputy police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough after his undercover past was revealed, but has remained as a Conservative councillor in Peterborough. Coles has denied an intimate relationship with a woman known only as Jessica while he infiltrated political groups in the 90s. Now Scotland Yard has ruled that Coles would have faced a disciplinary hearing on a charge of gross misconduct if he had not already retired from the Met. An officer found guilty is likely to be sacked. The Met recently told Jessica it was no longer contesting her legal action and would discuss compensation: “In all of the circumstances, it is credible that Coles met you during his deployment and … a relationship developed.”

* * *

Not just playing chicken – British farmers are preparing for war over the prospect of chlorinated chicken being allowed into the UK, which the government has declined to rule out. Other overseas practices could also pose a health threat – unlike the EU, many countries lack rules on the use of antibiotics on farm animals, a practice that is linked to the evolution of superbugs. Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union, is calling for minimum standards for imports to be enshrined in law and insisting that other countries trade with the UK “on our terms” rather than seek to water down food rules. “This isn’t just about chlorinated chicken. This is about a wider principle.”

Today in Focus podcast: China’s Chernobyl moment?

The coronavirus crisis engulfing China is the biggest political test yet for Xi Jinping. The Guardian’s Lily Kuo looks at how it may become an economic crisis. Plus Michael Safi on a humanitarian breakthrough in the Yemen conflict.

Lunchtime read: ‘Poisonous, horrible atmosphere’

With briefings, sackings and bullying, No 10 and Dominic Cummings’s war with the civil service is being played out in public. One senior civil servant with over 30 years’ experience told a colleague: “There is a poisonous, horrible atmosphere – a feeling that retribution could strike at any time for offering the wrong advice to the wrong person.” Rowena Mason and Rajeev Syal report.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters


Jürgen Klopp hailed Liverpool’s record-breaking campaign as “special” and “incredible” after the unbeaten Premier League leaders took another step towards the title with a 3-2 comeback victory over West Ham. Frank Lampard has warned that Chelsea have to be prepared to suffer when they play Bayern Munich tonight and urged his players not to let their standards drop after halting a worrying run by beating Tottenham. Deontay Wilder has said the elaborate outfit he wore on his ring walk weighed 40 pounds and was the key reason for his defeat to Tyson Fury. UK Athletics has been warned it must become more transparent after it was revealed senior figures privately expressed concerns before Mo Farah was given injections of a controversial supplement in 2014.

Friends, family and fellow athletes have paid tribute to NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and eight others, including his daughter Gianna, at a memorial service in Los Angeles. The Rugby Football Union is in talks with Six Nations organisers amid concerns England’s push for the title could be affected by the spread of the coronavirus in Italy. Australia’s continued involvement in the Women’s T20 World Cup, having recovered from falling to 10-3 against Sri Lanka, is critical for the tournament given an acceptance that the hosts’ success will boost television numbers and ticket sales. Jos Buttler is determined to repay the faith shown in him as a Test cricketer after admitting he is past the age where he can be picked on potential alone. And the Guardian’s Marina Hyde has won two SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, becoming the first woman to be named sports writer of the year in the awards’ 43-year history.


There have been some sobering statistics from Chinese state media on the economic impact of coronavirus – 60% of firms face difficulties, with 6% facing bankruptcy. Shares have been mostly lower in Asia after Wall Street suffered its worst session in two years. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 3%, the Hang Seng edged 0.2% lower and the Shanghai Composite index sank 1.6% while in Australia the S&P ASX/200 shed 1.2%. South Korea’s Kospi rebounded from a steep loss on Monday, adding 0.6%. Shares also rose in Singapore but fell elsewhere in the region. The FTSE100 is set for a bounce of about 0.5% at the opening bell today. The pound is buying $1.294 and €1.191.

The papers

A head and shoulders of the movie mogul squats on the front of the Telegraph – the headline is a dinky-sized “Weinstein guilty”. The splash is “Britons in Italy face quarantine” as returning tourists are told to self-isolate as a precaution. The Times uses a wider crop of that shot and the headline “Shamed mogul Weinstein faces up to 29 years in jail” – it also covers the impact of coronavirus on global financial markets, which provides the splash for the FT: “Surge in virus cases batters global markets …” and so on.

Guardian front page, Tuesday 25 February 2020
Guardian front page, Tuesday 25 February 2020. Photograph: Guardian

The Guardian leads with “Weinstein faces jail after being convicted of rape”. The Metro says “Guilty: Weinstein locked up at last” and the i has “Weinstein guilty of sex crimes” while the Mail deplores the “Arrogance of a monster” who had hoped during the prosecution that the “tides are turning” in his favour. The Mail’s splash is “Shotgun horror killing at Boris family estate” after a woman was shot dead and a wounded man was taken into custody. The PM lived in the cottage during his childhood, the Mail says, and his father sold it in 2013.

The Mirror has the latest “royal split fallout”, to wit “Fury at Harry & Meg’s £20m-a-year security bill”. The Express has the not very imaginative “Boris lays down law to EU” ahead of trade talks.

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For more news: www.theguardian.com


Warren Murray

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