A clause to criminalise the ‘glorification’ of terrorism, which had been removed from the Terrorism Bill by the Lords, was reinstated when the Bill was passed in the Commons by a majority of 38, with only 17 Labour MPs voting against the government. Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, said after the vote, ‘The type of demonstrations that we saw a couple of weeks ago, where I think there were placards and images that people in this country felt were totally offensive, the law will allow us to deal with those people and say, “Look, we have free speech in this country, but don’t abuse it”.’ A High Court judge ruled that the General Medical Council should not have struck off Professor Roy Meadow for having given mistaken evidence as an expert witness that resulted in the conviction of Sally Clarke for murdering her two children, a conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal; expert witnesses had immunity from action by professional bodies, the judge ruled. The Prince of Wales dropped attempts to stop publication of a witness statement by Mr Mark Bolland, his former private secretary, on behalf of the Mail on Sunday, against which the Prince had brought an action to prevent further details from his private journal appearing. Mr Bolland said that Prince Charles ‘often referred to himself as a “dissident” working against the prevailing political consensus’. The Prince had instructed him to tell the press that he was boycotting a state banquet given in London by President Jiang Zemin of China; Sir Michael Peat, the Prince’s principal private secretary, told the court, ‘I am informed by him that he gave no instruction to draw the media’s attention to his failure to attend that banquet.’ British Gas increased prices by 22 per cent. The FA Cup final on 13 May will be played in Cardiff because the new stadium at Wembley will not be ready in time. In a six-month project, 95 per cent of the City of London will be covered by a Wi-Fi network. A postman who kissed a woman on the cheek in the street was cleared of sexual assault and battery at Bristol Crown Court. A teenager who used the word ‘fuck’ in conversation with friends in a park in Dover was given an £80 fixed penalty by a passing policeman. The ravens at the Tower of London were taken indoors lest they catch avian influenza.
In Iraq a bomb damaged the al-Askari mosque in Samarra; it houses the tombs of the 10th and 11th imams, Ali al-Hadi, who died in ad 868, and his son Hassan al-Askari, who died in 874, the father of the 12th imam, whose return is expected. A demonstration in Maiduguri, in north-eastern Nigeria, that began as a protest against a cartoon depicting Mohammed in a Danish newspaper last September, turned into anti-Christian rioting, with churches and businesses being burned and 15 killed. Rioting in the same cause two days earlier, outside the Italian consulate in Benghazi, Libya, left 10 dead. A collection of documents purportedly connected to al-Qa’eda was declassified by the Criminal Intelligence Agency in the United States; it included notes on holiday entitlement for those employed by the terrorist group. In Nigeria armed militants in the Niger delta seized nine foreigners and attacked oil installations, disrupting the production of 500,000 barrels a day. A mudslide killed an estimated 1,800 people at the farming settlement of Guinsaugon in the Philippines. Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, who in the 1970s had entangled the Vatican’s banking affairs in an Italian scandal, died, aged 84. A wild duck with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza was found at Joyeux, 20 miles from Lyon, in France. The virus has killed 90 people or so since 2003, but no cases have yet been found of transmission from person to person. A court in Vienna sentenced the British historian David Irving to three years in prison for having denied the genocide of Jews during the second world war when he visited Austria in 1989. The European Commission said that the use of mercury in thermometers and barometers should be banned.