In today’s newsletter: As Labour reaffirms its pledge to remove VAT exemption from private education, a new report outlines the impacts on the wider system
Good morning. If you can afford to pay tens of thousands of pounds to educate your children, do you deserve a hefty tax break? That question has long been at the centre of debates over private education in the UK, and the particular tax status of what, by tradition, are known as public schools (yet are anything but).
Private schools in Britain, the majority of which are also registered charities, are exempt from VAT on their fees, meaning they escape the 20% tax that is applied to most other goods and services.
BBC | Huw Edwards has been named as the presenter suspended over allegations he paid a young person for explicit images. The Sun newspaper – which alleged in a front-page story that the presenter paid a young person, now aged 20 but 17 when it started, for photos – faces questions over its reporting and ethical standards after police concluded there was no evidence to support this allegation of serious criminal wrongdoing. Edwards, one of British TV’s most famous faces, is now receiving inpatient hospital care for “serious mental health issues”, his wife, Vicky Flind, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Nato | Joe Biden concluded the Vilnius summit on Wednesday promising Ukraine full support even without membership in the alliance. Leaders only signed off a carefully negotiated declaration promising Ukraine could join after making “democratic and security sector reforms”. Britain’s defence secretary earlier suggested Ukraine should show more gratitude for the west’s help. Separately, Russia’s foreign intelligence chief said he and his CIA counterpart discussed the Wagner mercenary mutiny and “what to do with Ukraine” in a phone call.
ScienceAn “unprecedented” closeup image of the nearest star-forming region to Earth was released by Nasa on Wednesday to mark the first year of operation of the James Webb space telescope. The space agency called it “a dynamic image that belies the region’s relative quiet – and practically begs for explanation of what exactly we are looking at”.
TechnologyAnthropic, a US artificial intelligence company, has launched Claude 2, a rival chatbot to ChatGPT that can summarise novel-sized blocks of text and operates from a list of safety principles drawn from sources such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The chatbot is publicly available in the US and the UK.
ConservativesNadine Dorries has been reported to the chief whip and Commons speaker after allegedly sending “forceful” emails to the government about not being given a peerage. In a highly unusual move, the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, said he had “flagged” the issue to the parliamentary authorities, and also asked for advice about any potential breach of the law.