News Daily: 'Iranian missile' downed jet and Queen's Harry conundrum

By Andy McFarlane
BBC News


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Justin TrudeauImage source, Reuters

Trudeau believes Iranian missile downed jet

When US President Donald Trump voiced "suspicions" about the fate of the airliner which came down over Iran on the night Tehran launched missiles against air bases housing American forces in Iraq, he won't have been alone. Now Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau says intelligence from multiple sources indicates the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Of the 176 people killed, 63 were Canadian citizens. Mr Trudeau says it's too early to apportion blame, and that the Ukrainian jet may have been brought down in error, but wants a "thorough investigation".

The timing of the incident prompted US media speculation the Boeing 737-800 was mistaken for a US warplane, as Iran prepared for possible US retaliation for its attack. Tehran, however, has ruled this out. While it initially said it would not hand over the black box flight recorders to Boeing or the US, with relations strained after the American assassination of top general Qasem Soleimani that prompted its missile attack, an official has since told Reuters the US had been invited to take part in the inquiry. Canadian investigators have also been invited to the site.

Here's what we know about the incident. Meanwhile, Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen explains why the chain of events triggered by Soleimani's killing could help the extremist Islamic State group.

Meghan returns to Canada as Queen seeks solution

While Buckingham Palace wrestles with the conundrum presented by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's decision to remove themselves from "senior" royal duties, Meghan has returned to Canada where she spent Christmas with Prince Harry and son Archie. The Queen, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge have all directed senior staff to work with the Sussex household and government to find a solution within days. "They are well aware of the challenge and complexity, in particular over the issue of money," says the BBC's royal correspondent Jonny Dymond. "It may not be possible to marry the palace's need for a degree of control with the duke and duchess' desire to do their own thing." How did we get to this point? Read the story of Harry and Meghan.

Draft deal aims to break Stormont deadlock

Are people in Northern Ireland finally about to see a working government return to Stormont? Three years to the day that the power-sharing assembly collapsed, the British and Irish governments published a draft deal to see it restored. If agreed, the assembly will reconvene later. DUP leader Arlene Foster says the deal offers a basis to re-establish government in a "fair and balanced way". Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists say they will study the text. The deal - entitled New Decade, New Approach - would end industrial action by healthcare staff, including through reforms, pay parity and a waiting times action plan. It would increase police numbers, and allow for the appointment of both Irish language and Ulster Scots commissioners and the creation of Northern Ireland climate act.

Mystery Chinese virus: How worried should we be?

By James Gallagher, health correspondent, BBC News

A mystery virus - previously unknown to science - is causing severe lung disease in the Chinese city of Wuhan. More than 50 people have been infected. Seven are currently in a critical condition. And officials in China and the World Health Organization have concluded the infection is a coronavirus.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which is caused by a coronavirus, killed 774 of the 8,098 people infected in an outbreak that started in China in 2002. "There is a strong memory of Sars, that's where a lot of fear comes from, but we're a lot more prepared to deal with those types of diseases," says Dr Josie Golding, from the Wellcome Trust.

What the papers say

The fallout from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's announcement they would step back from "senior" royal duties leads most papers. The Daily Mail says, while Meghan flew to Canada, Prince Harry stayed for "crisis talks" with the Queen. "They still want free perks and a home," reports the Metro. However, the Times suggests the Prince of Wales has made clear he won't be writing his son a "blank cheque". Other papers lead on claims the airliner that crashed in Iran on Wednesday may have been shot down in error during the country's missile attack on air bases housing US forces in Iraq. Tehran has dismissed the "illogical rumours", the i says.

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