News Daily: Minister's gala reprimand, and water refill promise

Hello. Here's your morning briefing:

Minister reprimanded for attending scandal-hit gala

A minister has been reprimanded by Downing Street for attending a men-only charity gala where it is alleged that female staff were harassed. Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi is not himself the subject of any claims of ill behaviour and left The Presidents Club fundraiser event in London early. He tweeted that he had "felt uncomfortable", but he had not seen any of the "horrific" events reported.

But Labour's Sarah Jones said Mr Zahawi should resign if he did not report his concerns and had attended on previous occasions. Her party called for an investigation into his attendance.

The BBC understands Mr Zahawi was called to Downing Street on Wednesday to explain his attendance to government chief whip Julian Smith. The Presidents Club has announced it is closing after an undercover reporter for the Financial Times revealed hostesses had been subject to groping and lewd comments. A number of other women have spoken out about their experiences.

Water refill points promised, as plastic bottle use targeted

The build-up of plastic waste in the sea is damaging wildlife on a huge scale. In an effort to prevent this, shops, cafes and other businesses will offer free water refill points in every major city and town in England by 2021. This, the industry body Water UK says, will ensure the use and dumping of fewer plastic bottles. Whitbread, which owns Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, is the first to sign up to the initiative. Under it, refill stations and public fountains will be shown on an app. Here are seven charts explaining the plastic pollution problem.

Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

Trump 'expects' Russia probe questions

President Donald Trump has said he is "looking forward" to being interviewed as part of an investigation into alleged meddling in the US election by Russia. He said he expected to be questioned under oath by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller within two to three weeks, with approval from his lawyers, and "would love to do that as soon as possible". Mr Trump has called the Russia investigation a "witch hunt" and a "hoax". But the US intelligence community has already concluded that Moscow tried to sway the presidential election in favour of Mr Trump, though Russia denies that. Here's a reminder of the issues involved in this complex story.

Chilling out at Davos

By Katie Hope, business reporter

It's not just high-powered meetings, networking and speeches at the World Economic Forum. Some attendees are also taking part in meditation sessions. "There's always a quiet place in your mind," says Rick Goings, the boss of Tupperware Brands. Despite being at the helm of a company valued at a whopping $3bn (£2.1bn) - yes, plastic box sales really are worth that much - he religiously spends 20 minutes twice a day meditating. Sometimes he does it in bed, other times in the car on the way back from a meeting or on an aeroplane, as well as in the office. The crucial thing is that he has to be upright, he says. After all, he chides, it's meditating, not sleeping.

Read the full article

What the papers say

The fallout of the scandal involving The Presidents Club gala dominates the headlines. "Sexists and the City" is Metro's take, while the Guardian reports that guests have "rushed to distance themselves" from the event. The Sun calls the gala the "sleaze ball" and the Times says the prime minister is expected to take action over the "gagging orders" women were allegedly forced to sign before working there. Elsewhere, the Daily Mail reports scientists are "one step closer to human clones" after two monkeys were cloned. And the Daily Express says eating curry could help cure dementia.

Daily digest

PM's Davos speech May urges UK to lead way in creating "safe and ethical" artificial intelligence

YouTube Logan Paul returns with video on suicide awareness

Gymnast abuse row President of university where Larry Nassar worked resigns

How's yours doing? Secondary school league tables for England published

If you see one thing today

The 'vanishing' road

If you listen to one thing today

What causes nightmares?

If you read one thing today

The five-star review that changed my life


09:30 Home Office statistics showing the number of police officers in England and Wales are released.

Today A mass vaccination programme begins across 54 cities in Brazil following a deadly outbreak of yellow fever.

On this day

1981 Four former Labour cabinet ministers - Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, William Rodgers and David Owen - announce their intention to break away and set up their own political party. This eventually becomes the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

From elsewhere

Frozen in time: The roof of Norway (Cambridge University)

The spice that hooked medieval nuns (The Atlantic)

How I became Fulham's lucky mascot (Guardian)

The bizarre world of pets on planes (Daily Telegraph)

Related Topics