The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 30 April 2005

A speedy round-up of the week's news

Text settings

The Mail on Sunday claimed that before the war on Iraq, Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, had warned Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, in a 13-page letter that it was questionable whether Britain could legally attack Iraq under UN Resolution 1441. A nine-paragraph summary of the Attorney General’s advice, containing no such caveat, was later published by the government, but it has refused to publish any fuller advice. Mr Michael Howard, the leader of the Conservative party, said that Mr Blair had ‘told lies to win elections. And he’s only taken a stand on one thing in the last eight years — taking Britain to war. And he couldn’t even tell the truth about that.’ Mr Brian Sedgemore, who first became a Labour MP in 1974, defected to the Liberal Democrats and urged voters to give Tony Blair ‘a bloody nose’ on polling day; Lord Kinnock, a former leader of the Labour party, said that, for fellow MPs, Mr Sedgemore’s remarks would be ‘a lance right through the spine’. The Royal College of Nursing said in a report that there were 20,588 new entrants to nursing in 2004, but 35,000 home-trained nurses had retired or left, while 12,700 overseas nurses joined the register. Sir John Mills, the actor, died, aged 97. A High Court judge refused an injunction to prevent publication in the News of the World of claims by Miss Abbie Gibson, who had worked as a nanny for Mr and Mrs David Beckham, about strains in their marriage and of a relationship between the footballer and his wife’s former beautician. AQA, one of the three main GCSE examination boards, is to scan 500,000 papers and email them for marking in India, where examiners command much lower payments. A window fell from the 28th floor of the ‘Gherkin’ building in St Mary Axe in the City of London. A man gardening at Cringleford, near Norwich, unearthed a cache of 135 Bronze Age spear heads, sword parts, tools and ingots.

Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen, pleaded guilty in Washington DC to six charges of conspiring with the terrorists who carried out the September 11 attacks in the United States; he said he had been trained to carry out a separate attack on the White House. ‘I expect leniency,’ he said, but the federal court reminded his lawyer that four of the charges carried the death penalty. Imad Yarkas, suspected of being the leader of al-Qa’eda in Spain, denied being a follower of Osama bin Laden during his trial in Madrid on charges of helping to organise the September 11 attacks in the United States. The formation of a government in Iraq continues to be delayed 12 weeks after the country’s elections. A double car-bombing killed 17 and wounded 31 outside an ice-cream parlour in a Shiite district of Baghdad, two days after a suicide car-bombing at a Shiite mosque in the city killed nine and wounded 26. At least 94 were killed and 400 injured when a seven-carriage commuter train carrying 588 people was derailed and smashed into a block of flats at Amagasaki, 250 miles west of Tokyo. Mr Jiri Paroubek, a Social Democrat, became Prime Minister of the Czech Republic after Mr Stanislav Gross, of the same party, resigned in the wake of a scandal about his finances. The last Syrian troops were reported to have withdrawn from Lebanon. Iran was considering a bid for the failed British car makers MG Rover, according to Eshaq Jahangiri, the minister for information and mines. The federal government in Mexico removed Mr Andres Lopez Obrador from office as mayor of Mexico City, but he refused to go; he leads the opinion polls among candidates for the presidential elections next year. Pope Benedict XVI met Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Muslim leaders after saying at his inauguration that he wanted the Catholic Church to continue ‘building bridges of friendship’ with other religions.