The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 10 July 2004

A speedy round-up of the week's news

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Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, asked by the Commons liaison committee if he would apologise for going to war with Iraq for the wrong reasons, said: ‘It has got rid of Saddam Hussein and he was a tyrant. I do not believe there was not a threat in relation to weapons of mass destruction. I have to accept the fact that we have not found them, but we have found very clear evidence of intent and desire. Whether they were hidden, removed or destroyed, he was in clear breach of UN resolutions.’ Mr David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, said he would try again to introduce a law against inciting religious hatred. The government announced a second toll-motorway parallel to the M6 for 50 miles north of Birmingham. A Lords amendment to the Children Bill allowed parents to smack their children if they did not inflict marks such as bruising that lasted for hours. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that at stake in the global consumption of fossil fuels was ‘our continuance as a species capable of some vision of universal justice’. ‘The pensions crisis is up there with terrorism or global warming as a threat to much of what we value,’ Mr David Willetts, the shadow secretary for work and pensions, said in a lecture. The average public-service employee takes nearly 11 days a year of sick leave, against eight in the private sector, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; this cost the equivalent of a tax of 1 per cent on everyone’s income. The sacking of Sir Peter Davis as chairman of Sainsbury’s gave no immediate stock market lift to the company. Some of the eight British sailors and marines arrested, then released, by Iran said that their boats had been ‘forcibly escorted’ from Iraqi waters by Iranian revolutionary guards. Sir Richard May, the judge who presided over of the trial of Slobodan Milosevic for two years, died, aged 65. Dr Robert Burchfield, a former editor of the Oxford English Dictionaries, died, aged 81. The Queen, opening a water-feature in Hyde Park in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, said: ‘There were difficult times, but memories mellow with the passing of the years.’ Mr Leonard Blavatnik, a rich Russian oil trader, outbid Mr Roman Abramovich, another one, to buy 15a Kensington Palace Gardens for £41 million. Roger Federer, from Switzerland, beat Andy Roddick to win the Wimbledon men’s final, and Maria Sharapova beat Serena Williams to win the women’s.

Mr Iyad Allawi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, welcomed the bombing by American forces of a house in Fallujah, with 15 reported killed, because it was meant to ‘terminate those terrorists whose booby-trapped cars and explosive belts have harvested the souls of innocent Iraqis’. A video made by Islamist terrorists headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian active in Iraq, was released, showing how suicide bombers went to work. The cornerstone was laid for a 1,776ft building on the site of the World Trade Center in New York, destroyed on 11 September 2001. The United States released five Saudi Arabians from imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay in return for the release by Saudi Arabia last year of seven British men wrongly accused of setting off bombs, according to the New York Times. The Iranian Sacred Defence Preservation Foundation, in charge of war graves, wanted to fly bodies of soldiers who died in the Iran–Iraq war to London to be buried at the embassy in Kensington. The start of the defence case at Slobodan Milosevic’s trial by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague was postponed because of his ill health. Mrs Winnie Mandela successfully appealed against a four-year jail sentence for fraud. Marlon Brando, the actor, died, aged 80. Greece beat Portugal to win the Euro 2004 football competition. Avine influenza was found again in chickens in Vietnam, Thailand and China.

CSH