The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 10 July 2014

Portrait of the week | 10 July 2014
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Theresa May, the Home Secretary, ordered a review, taking perhaps ten weeks, by Peter Wanless, the head of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, of how her department, the police and prosecutors handled historical child sex-abuse allegations. There would also be a large-scale inquiry by the retired judge Lady Butler-Sloss. These came in response to a ferment of speculation into what the late Geoffrey Dickens had alleged in 1984 in a folder of information he gave to Leon Brittan, then Home Secretary. In 2013 the folder was found not to have been kept. Rolf Harris, the entertainer, aged 84, was jailed for five years and nine months for 12 indecent assaults against four girls. Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon. Petra Kvitova beat Eugenie Bouchard in the ladies’ final. The Tour de France retreated to the other side of the Channel. Disruption afflicted the Channel Tunnel after an overhead power cable was damaged.

Public-sector workers, including teachers, firemen and civil servants, went on strike for a day. Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, was indicted to appear at the High Court in Glasgow on charges of perjury arising from the trial of Tommy Sheridan in 2010. Two men from Birmingham who went to Syria to join rebel fighters pleaded guilty at Woolwich Crown Court to terrorism charges. Two women went on trial at the Old Bailey accused of arranging to smuggle money to fighters in Syria after one was allegedly found with €20,000 in her underwear. Cheshire Police arrested all 14 patients in a mental health unit on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

The Queen named a 65,000-ton, 919ft aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. A statue of Gandhi is to be erected in Parliament Square. A baker’s shop in Co. Antrim refused to make a cake with ‘Support gay marriage’ on the icing, on the grounds that marriage in Northern Ireland is ‘still is defined as being a union between one man and one woman’; it then received a letter from the Equality Commission saying it would pursue legal proceedings. Adam Mugliston, aged 16, travelled the 1,167 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats, on 36 different buses, in four days, ten hours and 44 minutes, beating the record of five days, seven hours and 25 minutes set in 2011.


Businessmen pleaded with the European Central Bank to reduce the high value of the euro. The pound continued to strengthen against the dollar, reaching $1.7180, the highest level since October 2008. America became the world’s biggest producer of oil. American officials ordered some overseas airports, including Heathrow, to intensify screening of electronic devices, and allow no one aboard whose mobile phone was not charged; Britain extended the ban to all flights. There was a risk of ‘terrorist infiltration’ among asylum-seekers bound for Italy, Admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli, the head of the Italian navy, said; 66,500 migrants have arrived in Italy from North Africa this year. The Australian navy returned 41 asylum-seekers intercepted at sea to Sri Lanka, to be charged with leaving the country illegally.

In response to scores of rockets fired from Gaza, Israel launched air strikes against the Gaza Strip, killing dozens of people, and prepared for war, authorising the call-up of up to 40,000 reservists. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamist fighters ISIS, preached at al-Nouri Mosque in Mosul, now calling himself Caliph Ibrahim of the Islamic State. Ashraf Ghani was ahead in early results in elections for a president to replace Hamid Karzai, but his rival Abdullah Abdullah refused to concede, claiming fraud. The Taleban launched a rocket attack, setting fire to 200 petrol-tankers outside Kabul. Al-Shabab attacked Somalia’s Presidential Palace in Mogadishu. Alfredo Di Stefano, who played football for Real Madrid, died, aged 88. Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup.

The Ukrainian government retook Sloviansk from Russian separatists. Eduard Shevardnadze, the foreign minister of the Soviet Union who in 1992 became president of Georgia, died, aged 86. Three men and three women, from Ireland, Great Britain and Germany, who had experienced sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy, stayed the night with the Pope, who said: ‘Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness.’ Zach Brown from Ohio sought online crowdfunding to raise $10 to make a bowl of potato salad; within five days he had raised $40,000.   CSH