The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 16 November 2002

A speedy round-up of the week's news

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Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, in a speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet, said that 'hardly a day goes by without some new piece of intelligence coming via our security services about a threat to UK interests'; 'This is a new type of war, fought in a different way by different means,' he said. 'The dilemma is warning people without alarming them, taking preventive measures without destroying normal life.' The level of alert was raised at seaports; Mr David Osler, the industrial editor of Lloyd's List, said: 'The threat seems to have taken the shape of a lorry loaded with explosives.' Among government plans adumbrated in the Queen's Speech was a Criminal Justice Bill, the brainchild of Mr David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, which would provide for limitation of trial by jury, the introduction of double jeopardy and the disclosure of defendants' previous crimes. The Independent Review of the Fire Service, chaired by Sir George Bain, recommended that firemen should receive 'substantial pay for substantial reform'; a suggestion of 11 per cent over two years was described by the Fire Brigades Union as 'insulting'. Butlers and footmen in various royal establishments hurled accusations around, mostly concerning homosexual scandals. Mr Paul Burrell, the late Diana, Princess of Wales's butler, who had been cleared by a court of stealing some of her possessions, denied a claim by Mr Michael Barrymore, the entertainer, that there was an attempted impropriety between them. Mr Burrell was interviewed by Sir Trevor McDonald on television, attracting about 4.4 million viewers; but the Antiques Roadshow shown at the same time drew about 8.4 million. A man in Australia called Mr Greg Pead produced letters from Mr Burrell, one of which, on Windsor Castle paper, began: 'Hello, spunky!' Mr George Smith, a former footman, said he had been sexually assaulted by a servant of Prince Charles, while unconscious through drink. Mr Smith also said that a member of the royal family had committed some improper sexual act. The Most Reverend Rowan Williams was formally elected as the Archbishop of Canterbury by the canons of the cathedral. The coroner of Plymouth returned to the executors of the late Robert Lenkiewicz the body of a tramp that had been kept by the artist for 18 years in a drawer; 'Provided they comply with health and safety regulations,' the coroner said, 'and don't outrage public decency, it is possible that they could retain the body on some sort of public display.' The coroner of Burton upon Trent found that the England footballer Jeff Astle, who died in January, aged 59, was killed by degeneration of the brain brought on by heading footballs.

The 15 members of the Security Council of the United Nations, including Syria, unanimously passed a resolution, No. 1441, requiring Iraq to admit UN weapons inspectors, and make a 'currently accurate, full and complete declaration' of its weapons of mass destruction and programmes to develop them (by 8 December); failure to comply would bring 'serious consequences'. Within minutes of the resolution being passed, President George Bush of the United States said: 'If Iraq fails to fully comply, the US and other nations will disarm Saddam Hussein.' Iraq called the resolution 'bad and unjust'. Mr Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, called for urgent international aid to alleviate an approaching famine (following the present drought) that would affect twice as many people as the one there in 1984. A gunman shot dead a mother and her two small children and two other people at the Kibbutz Metzer on the eastern edge of Israel where it meets the West Bank territory; the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, terrorists attached to the Fatah movement headed by Mr Yasser Arafat, said they had been behind the murder. In Tehran, thousands of students protested against the sentencing to death of Mr Hashem Aghajaria, an academic who had questioned the right of Shi'ite clergy to rule Iran. Twelve British aeroplane-spotters were acquitted on appeal of charges of spying at Kalamata air base in Greece. Tornadoes struck in the eastern United States, from the Great Lakes to the deep South, killing dozens and devastating several small towns.