Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo detainee who won substantial compensation after suing the British government, was arrested in Birmingham on suspicion of terrorism offences relating to Syria. John Downey, accused of killing four soldiers in the IRA Hyde Park bombing in 1982, will not be prosecuted, because he was given, in error, a guarantee he would not face trial; an Old Bailey judge ruled it was in the public interest to make state officials keep their promises. Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the opposition, said she had ‘regrets’ that the Paedophile Information Exchange continued to be affiliated to the National Council for Civil Liberties during her time as its legal officer from 1978 to 1982; she said that the Daily Mail, which had criticised her, Jack Dromey her husband, and Patricia Hewitt, was making a politically motivated smear. Dave Lee Travis, the former disc jockey, found innocent on 12 charges of indecent assault, is to face a retrial on two other charges. A 14-year-old boy was charged with raping his mother in Blackpool. A couple were married in a Scientology chapel in London after the Supreme Court ruled that it was a ‘place of meeting for religious worship’.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, chaired a meeting of the British cabinet in Aberdeen, while Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, chaired a meeting of the Scottish cabinet at Portlethen nearby. The stunts coincided with a recommendation by Sir Ian Wood, appointed by the British government to inquire into declining oil resources, to appoint a regulator for the North Sea oil and gas industry. The Queen is to name the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on 4 July at the Rosyth dockyard in Fife.
Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, accepted an invitation to a debate about the European Union with Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, visited London to have tea with the Queen and urge Britain to stay in the EU. Zara and Mike Tindall sold pictures of their baby, Mia, to Hello!. Atos said it was seeking to end its government contract for assessing benefit claimants’ fitness to work. Essex County Council was asked to explain why County Hall, Chelmsford, a listed building designed by John Stuart between the wars, had swastikas carved on the facade.
In Ukraine, after 77 people had been killed during protests centred upon Independence Square in Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovych disappeared. Parliament voted to remove him, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Elections were set for 25 May. Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister, was released from jail after three years. Her right-hand man, Olexandr Turchynov, was elected by parliament as interim president. Dmitry Medvedev, the Prime Minister of Russia, said that the new authorities had conducted an ‘armed mutiny’. The United States, European Union and International Monetary Fund sought ways to help Ukraine meet its debts.
President Barack Obama pledged ‘strong support’ for Tibetan human rights during a meeting with the Dalai Lama; China had said the meeting would ‘seriously impair China-US relations’. Uganda enacted a law to punish first-time offenders caught in a homosexual act with 14 years’ imprisonment; President Obama had warned that the law would ‘complicate’ relations with Uganda. Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, outlined a reduction of its army from 520,000 to less than 450,000. Enterovirus-68, a disease resembling polio, was blamed for 20 infections in California. MtGox, an exchange for the virtual bitcoin, disappeared off line, owing customers hundreds of millions of pounds.
Hazem Beblawi, the Prime Minister of Egypt, and his cabinet unexpectedly resigned; the president asked Ibrahim Mahlab, the outgoing housing minister, to form a new administration. In the Syrian war, the al-Nusra Front threatened rival jihadists of the Isis movement after Isis killed Abu Khaled al-Suri, an al-Qa’eda emissary. At Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus, where 20,000 refugees are starving, Syrian rebels agreed to be replaced by Palestinian factions allied to the Syrian government. Boko Haram men killed 59 boys at a school in Yobe state in north-east Nigeria. A South African judge ruled that the trial of Oscar Pistorius on charges of murdering his girlfriend last year can be televised. A crystal of zircon, from the Jack Hills of Western Australia, was found to be the oldest known fragment of Earth’s crust, having been formed 4.4 billion years ago. CSH