A prince and a prime minister - they both had a pretty bad day yesterday, one faces trial in New York, while the other faces the court of public opinion.
The next few weeks will be very telling...
Click the screenshot below to access the podcast version of today's NewsFix.
IT'S ALL ABOUT ANDREW
Prince Andrew - the 9th in line to the throne - is one step closer to going on trial in a civil case to face accusations of sexual assault. In yet another blow to the royal, a US judge on Wednesday rejected his bid to have Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit dismissed.
Remember: Giuffre alleges she was sexually abused by the prince three times - in London, New York and on Jeffrey Epstein's private island - in 2001, when she was 17 years old. She claims the prince knew she was a minor at the time. The royal has repeatedly, and vehemently, denied all of the accusations against him.
Worth noting: It is important to note this is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal one. In a criminal case, Giuffre's lawyers would have to prove the case against Prince Andrew beyond a reasonable doubt. There is a lower bar of proof required for civil lawsuits in the US.
Many reports suggest the prince really has three options, all of them being "stark and unattractive";
- #1 settle out of court: the effort to avoid trial could mean a very costly settlement, but it is also important to remember it wouldn't be Andrew's decision alone - Virginia Giuffre would have to agree to it. Channel 4 News cited sources close to Giuffre saying "she is not inclined to do that".
- #2 default - ignore the case: this would result in a finding against him, few think this would happen.
- #3 he could fight the case in court: this would require him giving evidence under oath that would be scrutinised in open court, with a trial expected to occur in autumn of this year.
A royal commentator told Channel 4 News there is "absolutely no prospect whatsoever" of Prince Andrew appearing in court. Peter Hunt described a settlement as "the least worst of some pretty bad options".
Okay, so what next? Both parties in preparation for trial will be expected to give recorded evidence under oath in what is called the "discovery phase", which would involve having to answer some deeply personal questions. The judge set a deadline of July 14 for this to be done. While this information would not be made public initially, it would eventually be revealed if a trial went ahead, and is of course vulnerable to leaks to the press.
Royal perspective: This would be deeply damaging to the royal family at any stage, but it is particularly bad timing - on February 6 the Queen will have reigned for 70 years. The Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark the historic milestone are scheduled for June.
Here is a link to the judge's 46-page decision.
WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised in the House of Commons on Wednesday for his attendance at a social gathering in Downing Street in May 2020.
What's the latest? At least four Conservative MPs - including the leader of the Scottish Conservatives - have joined a chorus of opposition members calling for Johnson to resign.
What does the future hold? As BBC News pointed out, "a growing number" of MPs want Johnson replaced. 54 Conservative MPs would need to send a letter registering no confidence in the PM to the 1922 committee in order to trigger a leadership challenge. Many are waiting to see the outcome of Sue Gray's investigation, which is expected shortly.
In Ireland, the murder of a young woman in broad daylight on Wednesday has shocked the country.
What do we know at this point? A 23-year-old teacher was reportedly attacked while exercising in a public and well-known area of Tullamore at around 4pm. A man in his 40s has been detained. Multiple media reports suggest it was a random attack, the man is not believed to have known the woman personally - but it is of course early in the investigation.
Worth noting: The Irish Times reported that during the attack another woman arrived on the scene "and disturbed the attacker," followed shortly by a second woman.
KEEPING AN EYE...
Novak Djokovic has been named in the draw for the Australian Open which begins on Monday, though his right to remain in the country remains unclear.
Given the embarrassment the Australian government suffered on Monday when a court ruled against them, they are only expected to revoke Djokovic's visa if they believe they have a "watertight case" against him.
Also, Serbian lawyers have suggested the tennis #1 could be subject to a fine or community service at some point. On Wednesday, Djokovic admitted to meeting a journalist for an interview in December, despite knowing he was positive for coronavirus.
ON TODAY'S AGENDA
In London, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will host the EU's chief Brexit negotiator for dinner this evening, ahead of further talks on Friday.
What's on the menu? Scottish salmon, Welsh lamb, and the Northern Ireland Protocol. Remember, Liz Truss added Brexit negotiator to her list of responsibilities following the sudden resignation of Lord Frost in December.
In The Telegraph over the weekend, Truss published a piece getting straight to the point - I will trigger Article 16 if the EU does not cooperate.
- BBC News: Senior Tories urge PM to quit after party apology
- The Guardian: Novak Djokovic faces fine or prison for breaking isolation while Covid positive
- The Financial Times: Johnson faces calls to resign after he admits attending 'bring your own booze' event
- Al Jazeera: "The needle has shifted, Trump could be charged"
- The Irish Times: Man who killed woman in Tullamore was disturbed mid-attack
WATCHING OUT FOR...
Jamie Lynn Spears, the younger sister of Britney Spears, has spoken on camera for the first time since the controversial conservatorship ended in November.
Jamie Lynn is promoting her new memoir, 'Things I Should Have Said', and spoke about the fractured relationship with her sister, her views on Britney's ordeal, and the impact her father's alcoholism had on her as a child.
It makes for an interesting interview, here is a link.
Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox are engaged. The couple uploaded a video of the moment to Instagram, which has been viewed more than 13 million times in eight hours.
One year since then President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, following the deadly breach of the Capitol on January 6.
Trump is the only US president to have ever been impeached twice. In February last year, he was acquitted following a Senate trial.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE...