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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week: pro-EU Labour MP Jo Cox is shot and stabbed to death

Sir Cliff Richard learns he will not be prosecuted over claims of historical sex abuse; world refugee numbers hit 65 million

25 June 2016

8:00 AM

25 June 2016

8:00 AM


One week before the United Kingdom voted in a referendum on membership of the European Union, Jo Cox, a Labour MP and married mother of two, aged 41, died after being shot and stabbed at Birstall, West Yorkshire, on her way to a constituency surgery. A passer-by, Bernard Kenny, a retired miner aged 77, tried to protect her and was wounded. A constituent, Thomas Mair, aged 52, was charged with her murder and, on being asked his name in a magistrates’ court, said: ‘Death to traitors. Freedom for Britain.’ Parliament was recalled the following Monday so that tributes could be made.

The Crown Prosecution Service said that Sir Cliff Richard would face no further action over allegations of historical sex abuse, because of ‘insufficient evidence to prosecute’. ‘I was named before I was even interviewed and for me that was like being hung out like live bait,’ the singer said. ‘I cannot understand why it has taken so long to get to this point.’ The BBC, which had broadcast film from a helicopter of a police search on Sir Cliff’s house in his absence in 2014, said it was sorry he had thereby ‘suffered distress’. A man died after suffering severe burns at the Glastonbury Festival. A 29-year-old man about to fly to Saudi Arabia from Heathrow airport was arrested on suspicion of possessing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism. The average time to sell a house fell to 57 days. A Buckinghamshire accountant, Norman Murray Pringle, won a claim to the baronetcy of Stichill in Roxburghshire after showing by DNA that a previous baronet, who succeeded in 1919, was illegitimate.

Members of the RMT union working for ScotRail and Southern railways went on a 24-hour strike while train guards continued to take days of sick leave that caused cancellations on Southern, which is in a dispute over the introduction of driver-only trains. The government borrowed £9.7 billion in May, the lowest May total since 2007, but a little more than expected. Twitter bought a London-based artificial intelligence start-up called Magic Pony, which improves video quality, for £102 million. Tesco sold its garden centre chain, Dobbies, for £217 million. More than 16,000 new secondary school spaces will be needed within seven years for children now starting at primary schools, official figures showed. A Sudanese man found walking through the Channel Tunnel to Britain last August pleaded guilty to obstruction, but was released because of time he had spent in prison; he has been granted asylum.


The UN Refugee Agency said that the number of displaced people was now the highest ever, at 65.3 million. In Iraq, 30,000 people fleeing the embattled city of Fallujah left the authorities overwhelmed in trying to accommodate them. Hundreds of families spent nights with no shelter in temperatures reaching 50ºC. Many thousands of Syrian refugees were massed at Rukban in the desert, unable to enter Jordan. Six Jordanian soldiers were killed by a car bomb nearby. Turkish border guards shot dead eight Syrians, including four children, trying to cross into Turkey, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. In Belgium three men were charged with terrorism offences, including attempted murder, after an overnight operation in which 152 lock-up garages were searched, mostly around Brussels.

Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela filed a petition calling for a referendum to remove him from office. Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was jailed for 18 years by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for crimes of rape, murder and pillaging in 2002–03 in the neighbouring Central African Republic. Sunni authorities in Bahrain stripped its most prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, of his citizenship. An Egyptian judge quashed a government decision transferring the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

A Hong Kong bookseller, missing since his arrest in the Chinese city of Shenzhen in October for sending books critical of the Chinese leadership to China, was released. The governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil said that money for public services had run out, making it difficult to stage the Olympic Games. The Russian athletics team remained barred from international contests, including the Olympics, by a ruling of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Wales beat Russia 3-0 in the Euro 2016 football championships.

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