News Daily: Spy poisonings row and sugar tax

By Justin Parkinson
BBC News


Hello. Here's your morning briefing:

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Russia: UK created 'fake news' over poisonings

The diplomatic row over the Salisbury spy poisoning has taken another twist. Russia's UN ambassador has accused the UK of inventing "fake news" in blaming it for the nerve agent attack which put ex-KGB agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in hospital. The allegations were "unsubstantiated", he told a meeting of the UN Security Council, adding that Theresa May's government was "playing with fire".

But Karen Pierce, the UK's UN representative, replied that Russia had a "record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations". The UK government's actions "stand up to any scrutiny", she said.

Meanwhile, Yulia Skripal has released a statement saying her strength is "growing daily" - but her father remains critically ill. And it has emerged that two guinea pigs were found dead at Mr Skripal's home, alongside a cat in poor health, which had to be put down. Here's what we know so far about what happened in Salisbury.

Soft drinks sugar tax comes into force

A sugar tax on soft drinks has come into force in the UK. Leading brands such as Fanta, Ribena and Lucozade have had sugar content reduced, as manufacturers look to avoid paying a levy. But Coca-Cola has not done the same. Drinks with more than 8g of sugar per 100ml will incur the highest charge - 24p per litre. The tax follows similar initiatives in Mexico, France and Norway. But will it make consumers healthier? And what will the government do with the extra money raised?

Five teenagers injured in London violence

The spate of violent crime in London continues, with five more teenagers being injured in stabbings. A 13-year-old boy was seriously hurt in an attack in Newham, in the east of the city, while another in his late teens suffered stab wounds in Ealing, west London. Meanwhile, two 15-year-old boys are in serious but stable conditions in hospital after a third incident in Mile End, east London. A man has been held on suspicion of attempted murder and a boy of 16, who had minor injuries, was also arrested. Here are nine charts on rising knife crime in England and Wales.

The gargantuan air freighter that looks like a whale

By Theo Leggett and Matthew Wall, technology of business reporters

The Beluga XL will begin test flights later this year, and is due to enter into service in 2019. There are currently two being built, and Airbus intends to make five. The existing Belugas will be phased out by 2025. Boeing, meanwhile, has its own big beast - the Dreamlifter. If the Airbus looks like a whale, the Boeing most closely resembles a snake that has swallowed a cow.

What the papers say

Several newspapers show the face of Henry Vincent, who died allegedly at the hands of a 78-year-old man in a home struggle. The Daily Mirror describes Mr Vincent as a "career crook", while the Daily Express says he "preyed" on the elderly. Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph reports that Justice Secretary David Gauke expressed "sympathies" with homeowners who take on intruders, but declined to comment on specific cases. Meanwhile, the Guardian leads on comments by a former Metropolitan Police officer that the force has "lost control of the streets" of London, following a surge in violence.

Daily digest

Darts legend "Crafty Cockney" Eric Bristow, a five-time world championship winner, dies aged 60

Student loans Earnings payment threshold rises to £25,000

Trade row Trump threatens further $100bn in tariffs against China

Seven days quiz What April Fool's joke backfired?

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Today The six-day Marathon Des Sables - dubbed the toughest foot race on Earth - begins in Morocco.

09:00 Former South African president Jacob Zuma is due in court on 16 charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

09:30 UK productivity figures for the final quarter of last year are published.

On this day

1968 Dozens of cities in the US see an escalation in the race riots which began following the death of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

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