Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, said at a press conference: ‘If there is a breach of the existing UN resolution I have no doubt at all that the right thing to do in those circumstances is disarm Saddam by force.’ He also said: ‘If there is a breach we would expect the United Nations to honour the undertakings that were given.’ The Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer followed the same line in a sudden flurry of interviews. A policeman was stabbed to death and four others wounded after they arrested three men at Crumpsall, north Manchester, in connection with the discovery of traces of ricin poison in north London. In a related operation, police arrested five men and a woman in Bournemouth. Eli Hall, the gunman whom police had surrounded at a house in Hackney, east London, for 15 days, was found dead after a fire broke out; he had an apparently self-inflicted fatal bullet wound to his head, and another from a police weapon. The Fire Brigades Union planned more strikes but engaged in talks with employers. Morrison, the northern supermarket chain, bid to take over Safeway, but Sainsbury’s and Asda then put in rival bids. The Queen had an operation to remove a torn cartilage from her right knee, which she had wrenched while walking on uneven ground during a visit to Newmarket on the Friday before Christmas. A worker fell 350 feet to his death down the chimney of the Windscale power station that had caught on fire in 1957. Pete Townshend, the guitarist from the Who, said, after the Daily Mail published a leak from police sources, that he had paid with a credit card to look at a child pornography site on the Internet, although he was not a paedophile. Mr David Yelland resigned after four years as editor of the Sun and Miss Rebekah Wade, the editor of the News of the World, replaced him. The England and Wales Cricket Board decided to go ahead with England’s visit to Zimbabwe for the World Cup next month. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals criticised Iceland for two hydroelectric schemes which, it says, will affect one in seven of the pink-footed geese that winter in Britain.
The United States ordered another 62,000 men to the Gulf, to bring numbers there up to 100,000 by the end of January. The Pope told a gathering of diplomats: ‘War cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option.’ He also criticised Russia for expelling a bishop and several foreign-born Roman Catholic priests. North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries announced it was increasing its output quota by 1.5 million barrels a day to 24.5 million, to help make up for a loss of 2.5 million a day caused by the strike in Venezuela. The ruling party in Zimbabwe denied claims by independent mediators that Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa, the speaker of parliament, and General Vitalis Zvinavashe, the military chief of staff, had proposed that President Robert Mugabe should retire in return for immunity from prosecution in the hope of regaining international legitimacy for the country; but Mr Mugabe said: ‘It would be absolutely counter-revolutionary and foolhardy for me to step down.’ General Leopoldo Galtieri, the dictator of Argentina when it invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982, died, aged 76. Maurice Gibb, a Bee Gee, died, aged 53. Spain changed its law to allow foreigners with Spanish relatives to apply for citizenship without first obtaining a work visa; a million applicants were expected. Authorities in Peking decided not to renew the lease of a Kentucky Fried Chicken shop in Beihai Park next to the Forbidden City; a spokesman said the shop was ‘out of keeping with the style of an imperial garden’. Police boarded the 65-ft High Aim 6 off north-west Australia and found three tons of rotting mackerel but none of its crew of 12.