The Spectator

Portrait of the Week – 1 February 2003

A speedy round-up of the week's news

Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, decided to fly to Camp David for talks with President George Bush of the United States about the war against Iraq. Mr Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: ‘The Iraqi regime is responding to resolution 1441 not with active co-operation but with a consistent pattern of concealment and deceit.’ The Financial Times-Stock Exchange index of the top 100 companies fell on 11 consecutive days of trading to its lowest for seven years, losing 49.8 per cent of its value at the peak reached on 30 December 1999. The banking group Cazenove postponed plans to float on the London Stock Exchange. The Fire Brigades Union held another 48-hour strike; Mr John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said he would introduce legislation to enable him to specify pay and conditions for the firemen. A London Underground train was derailed at Chancery Lane station on the Central line when a motor became detached; more than 30 were injured, though none seriously, but 625,000 passengers a day found that line and the Waterloo and City line closed indefinitely. Catholic schools discovered to their alarm that behind their backs an agency of the Bishops’ Conference had agreed with the Department for Education and Skills that applicants to the schools should not in future be interviewed. Lord Dacre of Glanton, the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, who wrote for The Spectator under the name Mercurius Oxoniensis, died, aged 89. Mrs Claire Tomalin won the Whitbread prize with her biography of Samuel Pepys. A new study in the British Journal of Cancer found that the carcinogenic chemical acrylamide, which Swedish scientists last year found in dangerous levels in crisps, seems not to increase the risk of cancer.

Mr Hans Blix, head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, said in a report to the UN Security Council that Iraq had not accounted for its banned weapon: ‘Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.’

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