The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 12 July 2003

A speedy round-up of the week's news

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Tony Blair insisted that weapons of mass destruction will still be found in Iraq, even though none has been discovered yet. A committee of MPs acquitted Mr Blair's right-hand man, Alastair Campbell, of 'sexing up' a dossier about such weapons published in September 2002, but the committee said the claim that the weapons could be used within 45 minutes had been given undue prominence. It also said that Mr Blair had 'inadvertently made a bad situation worse' by misrepresenting the contents of the 'dodgy dossier' presented to Parliament in February 2003. The BBC, which reported the 'sexing up' allegation, turned down Mr Campbell's demands for an apology. The government announced plans to widen various roads. Its majority was cut to 35 when 62 Labour MPs voted against foundation hospitals. Mr Blair appealed to his MPs for unity. Three Kurds on their way to pick spring onions in a field in Worcestershire were killed when the minibus carrying them was hit by a train at a level-crossing. Three Romanians trying to paddle by night to England in a child's plastic dinghy were picked up seven miles off the Kent coast by the Dover lifeboat. A two-year-old boy from East Kilbride was shot dead while sleeping in his pram in a restaurant in Turkey. Sir Liam Donaldson, the government's chief medical officer, called for a complete ban on smoking in public places. Canon Jeffrey John, who would have become the Church of England's first avowedly homosexual bishop, withdrew his acceptance of the See of Reading in order to avoid damaging Church unity. His supporters said he had been 'the victim of appalling prejudice and abuse'. Harry Creighton, owner of The Spectator from 1967 to 1975, died aged 75. Lady Archer won £2,500 in damages and an injunction banning further disclosures about her private life from her former personal assistant, Jane Williams. Roger Federer became the first Swiss player to win the men's singles at Wimbledon, Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus to win the women's singles, and Tim Henman, Britain's best player, was knocked out in the quarter-finals. A fox bit nine-year-old Ellie Custy on her foot as she lay sleeping in her bedroom in New Eltham, south-east London. Ellie said she was terrified 'but I didn't scream, I shouted, "Get off me, foxy!"'

Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy, annoyed the Germans by telling Martin Schulz, a German MEP: 'Mr Schulz, there is a producer in Italy making a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I shall have to recommend you for the role of commandant. You would be perfect.' Mr Berlusconi, who was responding to claims that he is unfit to represent the European Union during Italy's six-month presidency, explained that he was making an 'ironic' joke, but Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany demanded an apology. Mr Berlusconi declined to do more than express 'regret' that he had been misinterpreted. Mr Schröder threatened to cancel his summer holiday in Italy. Two young Chechen women killed themselves and 15 other people by detonating explosive-filled belts at a rock festival in Moscow. Laleh and Ladan Bijani, Siamese twins joined at the head, died aged 29 on the third day of an operation in Singapore to separate them. Several American soldiers and a young British journalist, Richard Wild, were killed in Iraq. Arab broadcasters played two taped messages of support, apparently from Saddam Hussein, for 'the heroic resistance fighters' in Iraq. The Foreign Office and the House of Commons expressed concern about Washington's decision to put two Britons held at Guantanamo Bay – Feroz Abbasi from Croydon and Moazam Begg from Birmingham – on trial before an American military tribunal. The chief executive of Hong Kong, Tung Chee-Hwa, was forced to bow to popular pressure and delay an anti-subversion law. In South Korea, a father hurled his daughter's computer out of a 12th-floor window, annoyed that she was surfing the Internet instead of greeting him. The computer landed on a four-year-old girl, inflicting severe facial injuries.