The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 24 August 2002

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Mr John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, on being asked about British support for American action against Iraq, said: 'There is no serious division inside the Cabinet and there are debates inside the Cabinet.' A school caretaker, Ian Huntley, aged 28, was charged with the murder of two ten-year-old girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, whose bodies were found near Lakenheath, Suffolk, two weeks after their disappearance from their homes at Soham, Cambridgeshire. He was held at Rampton hospital and was unfit to appear before magistrates. Maxine Carr, aged 25, who lived with him, was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. The government proposed a law against using mobile phones while driving. An NOP poll found that 49 per cent of voters would vote No to the euro if the government said the five economic tests had been passed and called a referendum; 36 per cent would vote Yes; it is the highest percentage lead for opponents since the monthly poll began in January, when the Yes side had a 1 per cent lead. Harvesting began at 20 undisclosed sites of the first opium poppy crop for morphine production in Britain with Home Office approval. Michael Andreasson, aged 39, was jailed for 27 months after running up a bill of £146 for a meal at the Ristorante Italiano in London, including a large Bacardi, a bottle of Montepulciano, another eight Bacardis and a bottle of champagne; 'I am told you are a chronic alcoholic,' the judge said. 'There are plenty of people who are chronic alcoholics but do not commit this type of offence.' The price of beer in the south-east of England rose above £2 a pint for the first time; the cheapest region was the north-west where the average price was £1.69.

Abu Nidal, born Sabri Khalil al-Banna, the Palestinian international terrorist of the 1970s and 1980s, died in Baghdad, aged 65; Mr Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister, said he had committed suicide. German anti-terrorist commandos stormed the Iraqi embassy in Berlin, ending a five-hour occupation by five men who said they belonged to the little-known Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany. Palestinian police took control of Bethlehem, after two months of occupation, under an agreement which allowed for the Israeli army to withdraw from the town and the Gaza Strip in return for Palestinian action to prevent terrorist attacks. A Hamas gunman shot dead an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip; Israeli troops shot dead three Palestinians, including the brother of Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. About 114 Russian troops were killed when their transport helicopter was brought down by Chechen guerrillas at the Khankala military base outside Grozny. More than 200 white farmers were arrested in Zimbabwe after the government began to enforce its eviction of 2,900 of the country's 4,500 white farmers; of these more than 1,500 stayed put. Grace Mugabe, the wife of President Robert Mugabe, is to take ownership of a 2,500-acre farm 30 miles from Harare from which a couple in their seventies have been evicted and the farmworkers asked to leave. The government of Mr Gerhard Schroeder withdrew promises of tax cuts after the general election in the face of a multi-billion-pound bill for repairing German flood damage. Floods subsided from Prague and towns on the upper Elbe but affected settlements down river and on the Danube. More than two million people attended a Mass said by the Pope in Krakow; he prayed for 'strength in body and spirit, that I may carry out to the end the mission given me'. An Islamic high court in northern Nigeria rejected an appeal by a single mother who gave birth more than nine months after divorcing and had been sentenced to be stoned to death for having sexual intercourse outside wedlock. Saudi Arabia dropped plans to teach English in primary schools after criticism from religious leaders.

CSH