Monday briefing: Hong Kong media tycoon held under new security law

Martin Farrer
·7-min read
<span>Photograph: AP</span>
Photograph: AP

Top story: Mogul accused of ‘colluding with foreign forces’

Morning everyone. I’m Martin Farrer and these are top stories you need to know about this Monday.

Jimmy Lai, a prominent Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy advocate, has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law. The 71-year-old founder of news outlet Apple Daily was detained on Monday and is the highest-profile person to be held under the controversial law. Police were executing a search warrant on the newsroom floor of Apple Daily’s offices, according to Lai’s senior aide. A live stream of the raid showed dozens of police at the Apple Daily headquarters. Staff filmed plain-clothed and uniformed officers walking through the newsroom, rifling through piles of paper on desks and demanding to ses the ID cards of reporters. Lai, who was one of seven taken into custody, has had repeated run-ins with the territory’s authorities over the years thanks to his outspoken views about maintaining independence from Beijing. There’s also this video of him being arrested.

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Rape target – The government plans to reverse the record decline in rape prosecutions by imposing targets on police and prosecutors. The prime minister’s crime and justice taskforce is planning to set targets for police to refer more high-quality rape cases to the Crown Prosecution Service and for the CPS to prosecute and bring more rape cases to trial. The CPS is likely to oppose the change for impinging on its independence.

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Belarus protests – Violent street clashes broke out between police and protesters in cities all over Belarus last night after the country’s long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide in the presidential election despite a campaign marked by huge rallies in favour of the opposition. Riot police used rubber bullets, flash grenades, teargas and water cannon to confront demonstrators who gathered in the capital Minsk soon after polls closed yesterday. Dozens were arrested and one expert said it was the biggest show of defiance since Lukashenko took power 26 years ago. The opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, went into hiding before the poll after nine campaign staff were arrested.

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Covid travel warning – Ministers have rejected calls for routine testing in schools in England to try to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when pupils start going back to classrooms in September. Schools in Scotland begin returning from tomorrow, giving Boris Johnson a close-up view of how the process could be managed when he goes north of the border next weekend for a two-week break with his fiancee and baby. The travel industry has urged the government to rethink its self-isolation policy for holidaymakers as the rising number of cases across Europe mean countries such as France and Greece could be in danger of ending up on the quarantine list.

Donald Trump’s decision to use an executive order to break the political impasse over relief for people suffering the economic impact of the pandemic has been widely criticised, as cases in the United States passed 5 million. Also recommended is a lovely piece by my colleague Helen Sullivan about being reunited with her husband after a Covid-induced five-month separation. Helen’s also been busy updating our live blog.

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Police ‘racist’ – Dawn Butler, the Labour MP, has accused police of being institutionally racist after she was stopped while driving to Sunday lunch in London with a friend. Butler, MP for Brent Central, said the car was being driven by her male friend, who like Butler is black. After taking the BMW’s keys and checking the registration, the officers admitted there had been a mistake and apologised. It is the third time Butler has been stopped since she became an MP.

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Rain’s coming – Parts of the UK could receive a month’s worth of rain this week as the recent spell of hot weather gives way to rain and possible flash flooding. Thunderstorm warnings are in place between Monday and Thursday, with the Met Office saying some areas could see “torrential downpours”. However, some places could still experience three successive days of temperatures over 35C. A 12-year-old girl died in Scotland after getting into difficulty in the river Leven near Loch Lomond.

Today in Focus podcast

When the Guardian’s Luke Harding began suffering symptoms of Covid-19 he assumed he would be laid low for a couple of weeks. Five months later he is still unwell, and he has found hundreds of people like him.

Lunchtime read: ‘We’re bring life back to these towns’

As tensions mount between the UK and France over the increase in illegal Channel crossings, our correspondent Sam Jones has travelled to a town in Spain which is welcoming immigrants with open arms. Pareja is home to three families from Venezuela who have fled their homeland’s worsening economic crisis for a new life in the central Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha, which is desperate for young families after years of depopulation. “They’re giving us shelter here and we’re going to stay here to help bring life back to these towns,” says one migrant, Ángel Márquez.

Sport

Collin Morikawa hit a final-round 64 to win the US PGA Championship after a nerveless performance from the American in only his second major appearance. Lewis Hamilton said he welcomes the fight from a resurgent Red Bull and Max Verstappen after he and Mercedes were soundly beaten at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. Johanna Konta has played down concerns related to the waiver players will sign in order to compete at the US Open later this month. With so many of the world’s top players not travelling to New York due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the path has opened up for Serena Williams to equal Margaret Court’s 24 major titles, writes Kevin Mitchell. Ronnie O’Sullivan said he prefers Crawley to the Crucible despite sweeping into the last eight of the world championship in Sheffield with an imperious 13-10 victory over Ding Junhui. Liverpool look set to make their first signing of the transfer window, with Kostas Tsimikas heading to Merseyside for a medical before signing a four-year deal. Regan Grace scored a magnificent hat-trick to help the reigning champions, St Helens, thrash Leeds and move to within two points of Wigan at the top of the Super League table. And Pakistan contributed to a brilliant first Test and the next two promise more of the same even if England have selection problems to ponder, although no longer behind the stumps, writes Vic Marks.

Business

The number of footballers being investigated over their tax affairs has trebled in the past year as HMRC tries to close a loophole in the way players are paid. The anomaly concerns earnings from players’ image rights, which are currently taxed at 19% compared with 45% tax on wages. One in three companies expect to cut their workforce by the autumn, a new study says. Stocks are expected to rise in London when trading starts this morning thanks to optimism around stimulus for the US economy. The pound is buying $1.307 and €1.108.

The papers

Education is the theme for many of the front pages this morning. The Times leads with a plea by the children’s commissioner – “‘Make virus tests routine for teachers and pupils’ – while the Telegraph goes with “Union plan for schools to go week on, week off”. The Mail looks at “University places in peril amid exam chaos” as we build up to a big week for exam results. In Scotland, the Record says “SQA exams scandal u-turn” and the Scotsman has “Swinney set for rethink as fury over exams grows”.

The Guardian also has an exam story on the front page but leads with “Johnson to set targets for police to increase rape prosecutions”. The Mirror splashes on Simon Cowell’s cycling accident – “Cowell 1cm from being paralysed” – and the i says “Diabetes drugs breakthrough ‘exciting’”. The Express has some positive spin on the latest figures on Covid treatment: “At last! Britain beating virus”.

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