The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 1 November 2003

A speedy round-up of the week's news

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Twenty-five Conservative MPs wrote to the chairman of the 1922 Committee calling for a vote of confidence in their leader, Mr Iain Duncan Smith. The Labour party expelled Mr George Galloway, the MP for Glasgow Kelvin, on the grounds that remarks he made about Iraq ‘fighting for all the Arabs’ were in some way ‘grossly detrimental’ to the party. Mr Paul Burrell, once the butler to Diana, Princess of Wales, wrote a book, serialised for a week by the Daily Mirror, in which he gave a list of her nine close male friends, and reproduced letters to and from members of the royal family. Princes William and Harry issued a statement suggesting he was guilty of ‘cold and overt betrayal’ that was ‘deeply painful’ to them and ‘would mortify our mother if she were alive today’. Mr Burrell then said that ‘one telephone call’ from them would have stopped the book. ‘Is that too much to ask — really?’ he said on television. He had hoped that the Prince of Wales and his sons would say, ‘Paul, we know what you have been through, come down to Highgrove and have tea with us.’ He also said he would like to give the young princes a piece of his mind. Mr Bill Clinton, the former President of the United States, said that he had long known about the heart problems of Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister. ‘He told me about it quite a few years ago,’ he was reported to have said. The government gave indefinite leave to remain to about 50,000 refugees, mostly from Kosovo, Yugoslavia and Turkey, who had applied for asylum before October 2000. The Foreign Office advised British people not to visit Saudi Arabia because ‘terrorists may be in the final phases of planning attacks’. Network Rail took charge of track maintenance, ending its contracts with private companies. Cadbury’s announced more job cuts as part of its plan to reduce its world workforce by 10 per cent over the next four years. The last Concorde supersonic aeroplane flight ended at Heathrow at 4.05 p.m. on 25 October.

Several rockets were launched into the al-Rasheed hotel in Baghdad, three floors below the room where Mr Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy civilian chief at the American Pentagon, was sleeping; an American was killed and 15 people were wounded. A day later, 12 were killed in a suicide bomb attack on the International Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad using a vehicle marked as an ambulance and 23 in attacks on four police stations. During the night, between the attacks, three American soldiers were killed, bringing to 112 the number killed since major hostilities ceased on 1 May. The United Nations secured commitments of £8 billion in loans and grants to help reconstruction in Iraq; the United States has pledged £12 billion, leaving a shortfall of £13 billion in the estimated amount needed. American-led forces and Afghan allies killed 20 members of al-Qa’eda during fighting in the Gomal district of Paktika province in south-eastern Afghanistan. Russian stocks fell by 10 per cent on the arrest of Mr Mikhail Khordorkovsky, the country’s richest man. Sony announced it was cutting 20,000 jobs around the world. Wild fires fanned by the Santa Ana wind destroyed more than 1,000 houses on either side of Los Angeles; the fires were fuelled by trees killed by swarms of small beetles. Margaret MacDonald, a 44-year-old British woman, was jailed for four years and fined £100,000 for running a business that employed 600 prostitutes throughout Europe. Police in Istanbul arrested four people in a bus converted into a mobile brothel; prostitution is legal in Turkey only in registered brothels. The 50,000 sheep stranded for 80 days in a ship in the Gulf, after being rejected by Saudi Arabia as too scabby, were landed in Eritrea after Australia agreed to pay its government to take them.