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tv   BBC News at Ten  BBC News  February 25, 2021 10:00pm-10:30pm GMT

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tonight at ten — teachers in england will award gcse and a—level grades this summer. the prime minister calls it a good compromise. coursework, mock exams and essays will be used to determine students�* marks. algorithms won't be used this time. it certainly has come as a relief to me and i'm sure it has for the majority of a—level students and gcse students up and down the country. it definitely feels as though it's the best option for this situation that we find ourselves in. after last yea r�*s controversy over grades, the government reject claims the new system will lead to a "wild west of grading". also tonight... with almost 19 million people now vaccinated in the uk, the queen talks for the first about having the coronavirus jab. it's obviously difficult for people
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if they've never had a vaccine. they ought to think about other people rather than themselves. scotland's first minister, nicola sturgeon, says claims that her government covered up its handling of sexual harassment allegations against alex salmond are a deluded conspiracy theory. a letter from the missing dubai princess latifa — she calls on cambridgeshire police to reopen the investigation into her sister's disappearance 20 years ago. a five—day match done and dusted injust two days — england go down in the third test against india. and coming up in sport on bbc news — aubameyang to the rescue, as the arsenal captain sends his side through to the last 16 of the europa league.
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good evening. the prime minister has defended plans for teachers to grade gcse and a—level pupils in england this summer, calling it a "good compromise". the decision follows last year's exam fiasco — when grades were decided by an algorithm. with so much time lost, pupils will only be assessed on what they've been taught. grades will be decided by teachers using mock exams, coursework, essays, and optional tests provided by exam boards. results will be published earlier in august to allow more time for appeals that are expected to follow. today's announcement comes after similar moves in scotland, wales and northern ireland. but there are concerns about the fairness of the approach, including the issue of grade inflation. our education editor branwen jeffreys reports. schools will be testing all pupils when they return — but for covid, not their grades. check in the mirror that you're
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going to the right place. when year iis are back, any work could count. a lot of pressure has been put on all of us... this is the crucial gcse year for elliott and elizabeth. it would let me get into the colleges and the universities that i want to go to. relief today that teachers will decide what counts towards their grades. i find it a lot better, because i get under pressure a lot more in exams, so i think, whilst i'm comfortable in my lessons, i think it's a lot better for me. i'm perfectly fine with it, because i'm comfortable with my teachers and i know them well, and i know that the work i've done in lessons should get me a good grade. this is the least worst option, mps were told today. our approach in the face of the worst disruption to education since the second world war has been to protect the progress of pupils and students. now, for the first time, he said he trusts teachers. i can't help wondering why he only
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trusts teachers when there's a chance to make them responsible for what happens with exams. if grades go up a lot this year, then teenagers who benefit and their families aren't likely to complain immediately. but if they're massively out of line with other years, then they won't hold their value in the long term, and of course not everyone will get the results they want, leaving schools to tread a very tricky, difficult path. for each pupil, in every subject, they have to look at the evidence. where more is needed, this school will use extra exam questions provided. for some students, these questions that are being set nationally will have greater weighting, because we need them. but for some students it won't be such a great weighting, so if we can work on both the gcse grade and their progression, then it should ease that challenge. but, yes, i do worry that it is a bit of a hospital pass from government.
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a—level students, at home around the country, told us they want a level playing field. i'm more concerned as to whether some colleges inflate grades whilst others do not, and i think that could lead to a lot of discrepancies. this was probably the fairest way for us to be assessed, _ just because of the stress exams would have caused us. _ the regulator told me it will be different from the chaos of last year. teachers knew that their proposed grades were going to be put into a giant mixing bowl and spiced up with a mysterious algorithm, and of course, as you know, the algorithm isn't going to be used this year, so teachers will recognise that the grades they recommend are the grades that students will end up getting. schools do have their work cut out, welcoming back every year group, and byjune telling pupils what they'll use to work out grades. branwen jeffreys, bbc news, manchester.
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so, the latest official figures show there were 9,985 new infections recorded in the latest 24—hour period. it means an average of 10,189 new cases were recorded per day in the last week. the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is falling. currently it's 16,059, the lowest it has been since the first week of december. in the last 2a hours, 323 deaths have been recorded — that's people who died within 28 days of a positive covid test. on average, 383 deaths were announced every day in the past week. the total number of people who've died is 122,070. now on to the vaccination programme. nearly 449,000 people had their first dose of a vaccine in the latest 24—hour period. this means nearly 18.7 million people have now had their first vaccination. well, the queen has spoken for the first time today about having the vaccine.
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she urged others to have it, saying anyone who is nervous should think of others, as our royal correspondent nicholas witchell reports. they both had their vaccinations last month, and though the duke is now in hospital being treated for a non—covid infection, the queen, unperturbed, it would seem, by her husband's absence, was earlier this week on a video conference with health officials from across the uk. the vaccination programme had stirred memories. well, having lived in the war, it's very much like that. you know, when everybody had the same idea. and i think this has rather sort of inspired that, hasn't it? but how had the queen found her own vaccination? as far as i can make out, it was quite harmless. it was very quick, and i've had lots of letters from people who have been very surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine. and the jab was very, it didn't hurt at all. there was understanding for people
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who are nervous of the vaccination, but a reminder that everyone has a responsibility to have it. it is obviously difficult for people if they have never had a vaccine, but they ought to think about other people rather than themselves. and there was a message to the scientist who developed the vaccines, and all the staff who are administering them. it is remarkable how quickly the whole thing has been done, and so many people have had the vaccine already. so you have to keep up the good work. nicholas witchell, bbc news. meanwhile, the uk's coronavirus alert level has been lowered today, from level five to level four, in all four nations. 0ur health editor hugh pym joins me now. hugh, what difference does this make? it doesn't make any difference to plans already set out to start easing restrictions in the uk's four
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nations. that was announced by ministers and will continue to be so. it's an assessment of risk by the uk's chief medical officers designed to inform the public and decision—makers. it was launched last may, a five tier system. initially it was on level three until the autumn and moved up to level four in september as cases began to rise, then onjanuary the 4th began to rise, then onjanuary the 11th this year it was moved up to level five, the highest level, and the definition of that is that there is material risk of the nhs being overwhelmed within 21 days without immediate action and that of course was the day that lockdown restrictions were announced again in england and there were similar moves in the uk's other three nations at that time. well, today, the medical officers have moved it back to level four and said there is no immediate threat to the nhs any more and hospital numbers have consistently declined, but there is still pressure on the nhs and they say to everybody whether or not they've
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been vaccinated, everyone does need to remain vigilant. hugh been vaccinated, everyone does need to remain vigilant.— to remain vigilant. hugh pym thank ou. european leaders have agreed to take steps to speed up the vaccination programme and get millions more eu citizens vaccinated. the eu has been criticised for its slow vaccine roll—out compared to the us and the uk. 29 million eu citizens have been vaccinated so far — just eight per cent of the adult population. tonight the french president emmanuel macron offered his backing to the astrazeneca vaccine, saying he would gladly have the jab himself. 0ur europe correspondent jean mackenzie reports. none of the queues they planned for. inside, chairs sit empty. belgium's largest vaccination centre finally opened last week, but there's barely a person in sight. they have the capacity to vaccinate 5,000 people a day, but today they say they've only done 200, and in the hour that we've been here, we've seen just one person arrive for their vaccination.
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no, it's a pity that there are not many people. this afternoon it is very quiet, because there are not enough vaccines at this moment in time. it is quite shocking to arrive and see such a huge vaccination centre, and to see it totally empty. is that not disappointing for you? yes, of course it is, but what do you want me to say? of course it's disappointing, but i cannot do anything about it. there has been a shortage of vaccines, but now some countries are struggling to roll out the supplies they do have. many have decided not to use the astrazeneca jab on older people because of a lack of evidence, causing some, including health care workers, to refuse the vaccine. after a summit with eu leaders, the french president, who initially called the vaccine quasi—ineffective, jumped to its defence. translation: i think it is definitely useful, | and must be administered. my turn will come. if it were that vaccine they offered me, i would of course take it.
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france's health minister has even had his jab live on television to drum up support. but some health care workers are unconvinced still. i get maybe four, five, _ six e—mails every day, of nurses, even medical doctors, | saying they don't want the astrazeneca vaccine, - they refuse, and they want to wait for a better vaccine, l which is a bit strange, because that's not really based on solid evidence, or science. it's really based on - perception and rumours. with more than a million doses of astrazeneca now sitting unused in germany, governments will have to work hard to get rid of doubts. jean mackenzie, bbc news. the former chancellor philip hammond says the government must risk unpopularity and tell "some difficult home truths" when rishi sunak unveils his budget next week. lord hammond said dealing with the pandemic has been the financial equivalent of "fighting a war". the budget will take place next wednesday, against the backdrop of the biggest
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contraction of the economy on record. 0ur political editor laura kuenssberg reports. a lonely welder where dozens should be — a firm eking out a shrunken workload to keep going. covid's cost our health, but our country's finances too. and it's personal. staff are just stressed, depressed. there's just a real malaise setting in. since this third lockdown�*s kicked in, our sales have dropped quite considerably. we're probably 35—40% down from where we should be right now. we're the sort of company where we share the pain, so everyone has had to have their hours dropped. in this one county, more than 100,000 people are being paid temporarily by the taxpayer on furlough. nearly 70,000 people are out of work — doors closed, boats tied up. and there's another reason for hard times here. this oyster farm was told again and again they'd still be able to sell to the eu. but on this beach lies around £250,000 worth of shellfish
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they can't get across the channel. we're not in good position. long term, if it's not viable, the people on the farm will lose theirjobs. you know, i can't carry on subsidising the business, it's set up on a business model that's non—existent. the cash flow from those oysters sitting on the farm is pretty substantial. ministers say they're trying to fix that specific problem, but pushing on has been hard graft. to stop the economy crashing through the floor, the government's spent an almost unimaginable amount. there's no chance the government's going to suddenly strip away the emergency support that's kept much of the economy going through these hard months, but the pandemic has ushered in big government — and even bigger bills. the tory chancellor has become a big spender and faces historically difficult political choices about the purse strings. the economy is still so fragile, so how and when should the cost of covid be confronted?
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the debt is likely to last for decades, but the former chancellor reckons ministers have to start worrying about the cash day to day. my fear is that, as a populist government, giving money away is always easier than collecting it in, and the government will be tempted not to move quickly. i'm not sure that the top leadership of the current government really has that appetite for being unpopular in order to do the right thing. and to do the right thing for the economy, the prime minister needs to be willing to be unpopular, you're saying? i think he's going to have to tell the british people some difficult home truths. in crisis, though, there is often opportunity. years in the planning, the owners of this new maidstone distillery turned their hand to something else. we actually ended up making hand sanitiser before we indeed actually made
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or were selling our first spirits. someone did say to us, - "i think you're the first distillery in history that the first thing to leave the doors was handj sanitiser and not gin, you know!" the treasury says rishi sunak will be honest about the overdraft — new taxes on business to help pay back are in the mix. but in the main, expect the chancellor to reassure on wednesday — big changes impossible perhaps until the hardships gone. laura kuenssberg, bbc news. the first minister of scotland, nicola sturgeon, has vehemently denied allegations that she broke the ministerial code in the scottish government's investigation of sexual harassment claims against her predecessor, alex salmond. nicola sturgeon called the claims a dangerous and deluded conspiracy theory. in bitter exchanges at first minister's questions, she said scotland's institutions should not be sacrificed "on the altar of the ego of one man". alex salmond is due to appear before the inquiry tomorrow to give evidence.
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our special correspondent allan little reports now on how a bitter political and personal feud could threaten the scottish national party's ambitions for independence. together their friendship and formidable political partnership brought scotland close to independence. now, their enmity threatens the project they devoted their political lives to. this was alex salmond in march last year, charged with 13 counts of sexual assault. minutes after being acquitted, he said he intended to expose more evidence. there are certain evidence that i would have liked to have seen led in this trial, but for a variety of reasons we were not able to do so. at some point that information, that facts and that evidence will see the light of day. now we know what he meant. mr salmond has told the enquiry in writing that there was a "malicious and concerted effort" by several scottish government and snp officials to damage his reputation, "even to the extent
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of having me imprisoned". and that nicola sturgeon�*s husband, the snp chief executive peter murrell, tried to "persuade staff to submit police complaints". alex salmond has submitted evidence in writing, but scottish government law officers have blocked the publication of some of it because of legal concerns. alex salmond supporters believe this in effect silences him and denies him the redress he seeks. in parliament, opposition msps accuse scotland's legal officers of intervening politically to protect nicola sturgeon, and say the barriers between government, political party and the prosecution service have collapsed, raising questions about the health of scotland's democratic institutions. in 2018, two women civil servants brought complaints against mr salmond. he said the scottish government's handling of those complaints was unfair. he went to court, in a process known as judicial review. injanuary 2019 the court of session found in his favour, ruling that the government's process was unfair, unlawful and tainted by apparent bias.
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how close do these allegations come to nicola sturgeon? she told parliament that she first heard about the complaints against alex salmond at a private meeting with him at her home on april the 2nd, 2018. that meeting was not reported to civil servants and no minute was taken. later, a former aide to mr salmond said he'd told ms sturgeon about the complaints four days earlier, at a meeting she later claimed to have forgotten. alex salmond has already told the inquiry that the first minister's accounts are "manifestly untrue" and that she has repeatedly "misled parliament" and broken the ministerial code. in normal times, breaking that code would trigger a resignation. nicola sturgeon has denied it and said opposition parties were damaging scottish democracy. scrutiny of me is important, it's necessary, it's entirely legitimate. what is not legitimate is to pursue a conspiracy theory, a scorched earth policy, that threatens the reputation and the integrity of scotland's
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independentjustice institutions just because you happen to dislike this government, and to sacrifice all of that, if i may say so, presiding officer, on the altar of the ego of one man. the salmond—sturgeon dispute overlaps with a political divide that's opened up inside the snp. nicola sturgeon�*s under growing pressure from some in her own party who see her as just too cautious, too ready to wait for westminster�*s approval, before holding a second independence referendum. she's already moved in their direction. last month the snp said that if it wins a majority at the holyrood elections in may it will legislate to hold what it calls an advisory referendum, whatever westminster says. this is a perilous week for nicola sturgeon. a second parallel inquiry led by a former public prosecutor will determine soon whether she did indeed break the ministerial code. would that end her career? she continues to enjoy very high public approval ratings, enhanced by her handling
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of the pandemic. polls suggest the snp will win an overwhelming victory in holyrood elections in may, and see that as a mandate for a second independence referendum. but this affair has shone an unforgiving light on the governance of scotland, the openness and accountability of its institutions, and tomorrow the man nicola sturgeon once regarded as a close friend and mentor will test how resilient her leadership is. allan little, bbc news, edinburgh. the number of people sleeping rough in england fell by more than a third last year, compared with 2019. it came after the launch of the government's everyone in scheme — with councils told to rehouse thousands of rough sleepers at the start of the covid—19 pandemic. but there are concerns that rising unemployment and the financial pressures of the pandemic might push more people back onto the streets. michael buchanan reports. it's just really cold and really dark.
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it's just uncomfortable. i was very frightened. lawrence cummings spent several months in 2019 sleeping on london's streets after his father died and he could no longer stay in the family home. last spring, the 20—year—old was offered accommodation to protect him from the pandemic. i'm glad the coronavirus happened, because got put into a hotel, so it was great, actually. i mean, there was a tv on the wall. i just forgot about being homeless. basically, because of covid, we've got these new hotels now. unprecedented levels of support have seen the number of rough sleepers in england fall by 37% in one year tojust over 2500. is anyone in? similar unparalleled efforts have been made in the other uk nations. ministers are promising the situation won't deteriorate when the country reopens. the pandemic has been an incredible opportunity to reduce rough sleeping.
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we've helped people in off the streets. we now know where they are. we've been able to put wraparound care around them, not just for housing, but importantly for substance abuse and for mental health. there you go. thank you. no worries. today's figures are a snapshot, and the pandemic is creating new homeless people, some of whom turned to charities like this to get by. here in the london borough of southwark, applications for homelessness assistance are up 48% on this time last year. i mean, it's completely unprecedented. just as we are able to support people and get them into a self—contained, warm place to sleep, then new people are becoming homeless and arriving on the street. i ended up sitting for most of the night at a bus stop. you have some deep, dark thoughts. how has it come to this? in a few short weeks, aaron howell went from working in a hotel on the gold coast of australia to pounding the dark pavements of london alone. the 25—year—old became homeless in april when he returned to britain and the live—in hoteljob he'd lined
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up disappeared due to coronavirus. i remember dozing off against this pane of glass behind me. ijust remember an immense feeling of fear, and sort of unsure about what lay ahead throughout the early hours of the morning and what my next steps were. arran was given a bed in a hostel, and is optimistic of soon getting a job. preventing others from becoming homeless will be a key post—lockdown challenge. michael buchanan, bbc news. a letter has emerged written by the missing princess latifa — daughter of the ruler of dubai — who claims she's being held captive by her father. in it she appeals to british police to reopen an investigation into the kidnapping of her older sister in cambridge more than 20 years ago. princess shamsa hasn't been seen in public since then. a police investigation at the time was closed, and there have been questions about why that happened.
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0ur correspondent nawal al maghafi reports. sheikh mohammed rashid al maktoum, the billionaire ruler of dubai. last week, the bbc released secret recordings of his daughter, princess latifa. i'm a hostage, and this villa has been converted into a jail. in them, she claims he's responsible for her abduction and imprisonment. but latifa is not the only daughter of sheikh mohammed to try to escape. in 2000, my sister shamsa, while she was on holiday in england, she was 18 years old, going on 19. she ran away. so, yeah, after two months, they found her. the police launched an investigation, but it hit a dead end. but now the bbc has obtained a letter written by princess latifa from her captivity. in it, a plea to reopen her sister's case. the letter, delivered by her friends yesterday to cambridgeshire police, says...
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cambridgeshire police have told us that the letter will be considered in their ongoing review of shamsa's case. we've pieced together shamsa's extraordinary story. she was a passionate horse rider and loved spending summers at her father's estate in the surrey countryside. shamsa was cheeky, liked to push all the boundaries and she wasn't what you would call a princess. you know? she was full of life and adventure. shamsa dreamt of going to university, but says that her father wouldn't allow it. so in the summer of the year 2000, she drove a black range rover to the edge of the estate and ran away. after shamsa escaped her father's estate in longcross, she lived as a free woman
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for around two months. she then checked into this hotel in cambridge. suddenly, herfather�*s operatives arrived and she was captured. by sam the next morning, she was on a helicopter to northern france, where she was transferred to a private jet that took her to dubai. six months later, from her captivity in dubai, shamsa managed to get word of what happened to her to a lawyer in the uk who contacted the police. as part of their investigation, cambridgeshire police needed to go to dubai to speak to shamsa. the officer in charge applied through the crown prosecution service. and that's effectively where my investigation came to an end, i because a short while later, i was informed that my- request had been declined. he was later told by a senior colleague that the investigation had some significant sensitivities. we know at the time of dci david beck's inquiries, the london office of the princess's father, sheikh mohammed al maktoum, had contacted the fco about this.
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the foreign office told us that the investigation was conducted by cambridgeshire police, and that they had no role in the investigation or its outcome. but they declined to answer any of our questions about the communication between them and sheikh mohammed al maktoum's office. on her enforced returned to dubai, shamsa was kept locked up for the next eight years. she was then released from confinement, but her life remained heavily controlled. we spoke to someone who had regular contact with after she was released. she was tranquillized all the time. everything she did was controlled. and i understand that people can't get their hand around it. theyjust see some rich girl. it's not like that at all. it's horrific. although the uae government maintain that shasma and latifa are cherished and adored by theirfamily, they�* re yet to prove that they're alive. nawal al maghafi, bbc news. asda is consulting its staff
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about a restructuring which could put 3000 back office jobs at risk. it also plans to shut two warehouses affecting 800 workers. the supermarket wants to expand its online operations and create 11,500 new posts. it aims to redeploy staff affected by any cuts. the singer lady gaga is offering a reward of half a million dollars for the return of her two dogs, after a gunman shot her dog—walker and stole the animals. police say the dog walker was taken to hospital. the suspect made off with two of the singer's french bulldogs in hollywood, los angeles. a third dog escaped and was later found. cricket, and after an astonishing day's play, india has beaten england by ten wickets, to win the third test in ahmedabad. there was a thrilling fightback by england, bowling india out for 145, but india's spinners then bowled the tourists out forjust 81 runs.
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joe wilson reports on the game that finished inside two days. all traces of batsmen removed, even reason brushed away in thursday's dust. well, england began needing wickets. jack leach struck. if only they had another spin bowler. well, they do, it'sjoe root. oh, there we go! rishabh pant fell to the captain's first ball — it couldn't get better, until it did. root to washington sundar. absolute beauty from root! look back in anguish — yeah, clean bowled. india 145 all out, a lead ofjust 33. joe root took five wickets for eight runs. remember, strictly speaking, he's not even a bowler. well, come back quick with your bat. in the battle of who scores less, england then excelled. 0h, a wicket on the very first delivery! crawley and bairstow fell with a score of none. the shiny pink ball slid and deceived on the dry earth.

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