Long-shot image of Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland Pier

What happened in August 2023?

Some of the biggest stories of the year happened in August 2023.

Here is the news that defined the month.

Lucy Letby

Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby was found guilty of murdering seven babies, making her the most prolific child serial killer in modern British history.

The 33-year-old was also convicted of attempting to kill six other infants at the Countess of Chester Hospital in north-west England and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order.

Consequently, ministers ordered an independent inquiry into how Letby was able to commit these atrocious acts, designed to investigate hospital culture and the wider effectiveness of NHS governance.

The trial lasted for more than 10 months, and it was believed to be the longest murder trial to take place in the UK.

Bibby Stockholm

The government’s harsh crackdown on migration as part of its immigration policy resulted in asylum seekers being housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset, garnering widespread controversy.

Firstly, a potential deadly strain of legionella bacteria was discovered onboard in early August, leading to calls to relocate those seeking asylum to a safer area.

Following this revelation, the 39 asylum seekers onboard the Home Office’s barge reported that conditions were so bad that one person was driven to attempt suicide.

A three-page letter was sent to the then-home secretary Suella Braverman, describing the barge as an “unsafe, frightening and isolated place”

Individuals were taken off, before being moved back onto Bibby Stockholm in October, with one asylum seeker, 27-year-old Leonard Farruku, recently found dead while being held onboard the barge.

Yevgeny Prigozhin death

August also saw an important development in the Russia-Ukraine war – namely the death of Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash northwest of Moscow.

Prigozhin led the most notorious mercenary group, which gained recognition for its brutal, uncompromising methods and sealing some of Russia’s most significant battleground victories over the course of the war.

He was one of Putin’s closest ally, described as the Russian leader’s “personal chef”, but lead a mutiny in June, marking the biggest challenge to Putin’s rule in 23 years.

Despite an agreement being reached that ended the rebellion, Prigozhin was considered to be significantly under threat in the aftermath, with even senior world leaders like Joe Biden speculating that Putin may have been involved in the crash.

Luis Rubiales scandal

From a sporting perspective, the Women’s World Cup and England’s amazing run to the final of the tournament, where they suffered an agonising 1-0 defeat by a very impressive Spanish team, should have been the sporting storyline over August.

However, when Spanish Federation President Luis Rubiales kissed Spanish player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent, all the attention and spotlight was drawn away from the team’s achievements and towards this unforgivable act.

Rubiales exacerbated the situation by doubling down and refusing to resign or even apologise for his actions – a speech he gave five days after the event caused the entire World-Cup winning squad to withdraw themselves from selection for the national team.

Rubiales eventually resigned on September 10th, predominantly citing how the situation was threatening Spain’s 2023 bid for the men’s World Cup. It did not include an apology to Hermoso.

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