Morning Briefing July 14: Concern over gunman’s sentencing motivations

The upcoming sentencing of the terrorist who murdered 51 people in last year’s Christchurch mosque attacks took a twist yesterday when he moved to sack his lawyers and represent himself.

General view of Christchurch District Court Source: Getty

It means gunman Brenton Tarrant can speak openly at next month’s court hearing – and it’s raised concerns he could use the opportunity to spout hateful views. 

Queen's Counsel James Rapley told 1 NEWS the judge will tread a “fine line” in allowing Tarrant to speak at his sentencing. He says the judge ultimately controls the court and can stop a defendant if they go off topic.

Otago University professors Danica McGovern and Andrew Geddis have outlined more about the sentencing process and potential scenarios over on The Spinoff.  

Tarrant’s sentencing begins on August 24 and is expected to take three days.

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Labour Party donations probed

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has announced it's investigating donations made to the Labour Party in 2017.

The SFO says it’s one of four investigations in relation to electoral funding matters.

Those other investigations relate to the New Zealand First Foundation and Auckland Council and Christchurch City Council mayoral electoral funding. A fifth SFO investigation around donations paid to the National Party is currently before the courts.

Labour Party President Claire Szabo says the party hasn’t been advised of the specifics of the inquiry into their 2017 donations but will fully cooperate with any SFO investigations.

New warning over pandemic

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says “too many countries are headed in the wrong direction” when it comes to curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the pandemic is going to get “worse and worse” if certain governments don’t take decisive action. He adds “mixed messages from leaders” are undermining public trust.

The blunt assessment of the global situation comes as US President Donald Trump clashes with his own health officials

Meanwhile, New South Wales is moving to tighten social restrictions again as a virus cluster linked to a Sydney pub grows.

The Australian state recorded more community transmission of Covid-19 yesterday and says more restrictions will need to be considered if there are outbreaks outside the pub cluster.

And New Zealand’s health authorities are warning Kiwis not to become complacent.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield was back from holiday yesterday and urged New Zealanders to continue taking Covid-19 seriously and to continue tracking their movements

Questions over candidate’s tweet

Twitter has halted the promotion of a tweet posted by a Vision New Zealand political candidate.

1 NEWS saw the tweet by Takanini candidate George Ngatai promoted on the platform yesterday and asked Twitter about it given the social media giant has banned political advertising. 

A spokesperson for Vision New Zealand told 1 NEWS they didn’t pay to advertise the tweet, however it was clearly labelled as “promoted”. Twitter has since stopped the tweet’s promotion. 

"Twitter globally prohibits the promotion of political content. We have made this decision based on our belief that political message reach should be earned, not bought," a Twitter spokesperson told 1 NEWS.

'Please tax us'

A group of the world's richest people are calling on their governments to permanently increase taxes on them to help pay for the Covid-19 economic recovery.

The wealthy group, including New Zealand's Sir Stephen Tindall, have penned a letter demanding "immediate, substantial and permanent" higher taxes "on people like us".

In the letter, the group warns the impact of the Covid-19 crisis will last "for decades" if nothing is done soon.

"So please. Tax us. Tax us. Tax us. It is the right choice. It is the only choice. Humanity is more important than our money."

Other news of note this morning: 

Authorities say a body has been found in the search for Glee star Naya Rivera.

National MP Amy Adams has apologised for wrongly claiming one of her party's candidates is Chinese.

John Travolta has confirmed his wife, actress Kelly Preston, has died after a two-year battle with breast cancer

The largest study of cardiovascular health in New Zealand is underway as the country prepares for a surge in the number of Kiwis over 65. 

A Retail New Zealand survey shows one in eight retail businesses are struggling to negotiate rent relief.

Rafting guides on one of New Zealand’s longest rivers say they've pulled half a tonne of plastic out of the Buller Gorge.

And Fair Go is on the hunt for a Kiwi solar power salesman who’s gone missing, leaving customers thousands of dollars out of pocket.

And finally...

If it’s a cliché to finish a news briefing with a cute animal story, then consider me guilty as charged.

A baby wombat named Ted is the newest recruit at a New South Wales police station after becoming orphaned in a motor vehicle incident.

While he waits to be released back into the wild, Ted spends his days getting chin scratches from a clearly smitten police inspector – and you’ll be smitten too once you’ve seen his story.

And one last bit of housekeeping - I’m off on holiday, so will leave the Morning Briefing in the capable hands of my colleague, Breanna Barraclough, for the rest of the week. She’s very much looking forward to waking up at 4am to bring you the day’s news.