The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 22 February 2018

Also: Henry Bolton resigns, 17 killed in school shooting and Jacob Zuma resigns

Portrait of the week | 22 February 2018
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Someone called Jan Sarkocy said that, as a Czech Security Service agent in London under the name Jan Dymic, he met Jeremy Corbyn several times in 1986 and 1987 and gave him money; Mr Corbyn called his account false and warned newspapers that reported such allegations ‘change is coming’. Henry Bolton, 54, was removed as leader of Ukip at a special meeting, and then returned to his girlfriend, 25, whose text messages about black people had caused him trouble. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, launched a year-long review of higher education, but ruled out abolishing tuition fees, which Labour promised to do. Oxfam agreed not to bid for government funding until the Department for International Development was satisfied it could show it met the ‘high standards’ required. Brendan Cox, the husband of the murdered MP Jo Cox, resigned from two charities he set up in her memory after allegations of sexual assault; he denied assaulting a woman at Harvard University in 2015, but admitted ‘inappropriate’ behaviour while working for Save the Children.

The number of victims of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 has risen to more than 1,500, the National Crime Agency said. Barry Bennell, a former football coach aged 64, was jailed for 31 years at Liverpool Crown Court for 50 counts of child sexual abuse. Matthew Falder, a Cambridge graduate aged 29, who admitted 137 charges — including rape — against 46 people and shared images of paedophilia on the dark web, was jailed for 32 years at Birmingham Crown Court. Russell Hume, a meat wholesaler investigated by the Food Standards Agency over use-by dates, went into administration. Jamie Oliver closed his Barbecoa steak restaurant in Piccadilly. KFC temporarily closed more than half of its 900 UK outlets, which had run out of chicken as a result of its delivery contract with DHL.

Britain sold the Royal Navy’s flagship, HMS Ocean, to Brazil for £84 million. Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, called the army’s recruitment process ‘unacceptable’ for taking an average of 300 days to complete. Mrs May told the Munich security conference that ‘Europe’s security is our security’, and that Britain is ‘unconditionally committed to maintaining it’. If MPs voted against the Brexit deal Mrs May negotiated, there would be ‘an election, maybe after that election a new government’, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. William Hill, the bookmakers, was given a £6.2 million penalty by the Gambling Commission for failing to meet money-laundering regulations.


Nikolas Cruz, aged 19, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after 14 teenaged pupils and three members of staff were shot dead at his former school in Parkland, Florida. Cruz had bought seven rifles in the past year. The FBI was told last September that he had posted social media messages about his ambition to become a ‘professional school shooter’. Thirteen Russians were charged by the special counsel Robert Mueller with interfering in the US election in 2016. A Russian MP, Vladislav Reznik, and 17 others went on trial in Madrid accused of money-laundering for a Russian mafia gang. The Court of Arbitration for Sport formally charged Alexander Krushelnitsky, from the Russian Winter Olympic curling team, with testing positive for meldonium, a banned substance; how it could improve his performance was not clear. Canada and Germany were in a dead-heat in the two-man bobsleigh.

Violence continued in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more people have been displaced in the past two years than in any other country. President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, during a visit by President Joseph Kabila of DR Congo, called him ‘a very good president who was loved by more than 60 per cent of Congolese’. Cyril Ramaphosa became the President of South Africa, as the only candidate nominated by parliament, which is controlled by the African National Congress, the day after the resignation of Jacob Zuma. Iceland’s parliament debated a bill to make male circumcision illegal.

Syrian pro-government forces entered the Syrian Kurd enclave of Afrin, in north-western Syria, which had been attacked by Turkish forces. Syrian forces bombarded the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus, killing 100 people in a day. At the security conference in Munich, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, waved a piece of shot-down drone and called Iran the ‘greatest threat to our world’. China asked the United States to punish ‘severely’ a man who, after a Christmas ugly-sweater party, broke a thumb from a terracotta warrior on show at Philadelphia and kept it in his desk drawer.        CSH