The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 31 March 2016

Portrait of the week | 31 March 2016
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The Indian company Tata decided to sell its entire steel business in Britain, putting more than 15,000 jobs in jeopardy. The buy-to-let business was squashed by the Prudential Regulation Authority imposing more stringent borrowing criteria in parallel with an increase in stamp duty from this month. The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee said that ‘the most significant’ domestic risks to financial stability were connected to the referendum on EU membership. The French utility company EDF agreed to take on part of its Chinese partner’s financial risks from cost overruns in building the Hinkley Point nuclear power station. BHS, the department store chain, attempted to secure its future in the face of a £571 million pension deficit. The number of paid staff in British libraries has fallen by 7,933 in six years, the BBC found. Bert Williams, 71, from Prenton, Wirral, set a new record for a British angler by catching a 93lb cod in the sea off Norway.

Tarik Hassane, 22, a medical student, and Suhaib Majeed, 21, a physics student, both born in London and friends when at Westminster City school, were found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey of plotting to commit drive-by shootings from a moped in the name of the Islamic State. Tanveer Ahmed, 32, from Bradford, was charged with the murder in a grocer’s shop in Glasgow of its owner, Asad Shah, a member of the Ahmadi sect, who had posted a message on Facebook, ‘Good Friday and a very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation.’ Nick Blackwell suffered bleeding on the brain during a fight to defend his British middleweight boxing title, which was stopped when his eye swelled up.

Four out of ten removals of foreign criminals and immigration offenders are cancelled, according to a report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, which found that more than 33,000 airline tickets were cancelled in 18 months. A seven-year-old girl from Norwich died when a bouncy castle in Harlow, Essex, blew away. Junior doctors in England announced two days of strikes in April from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., which will include emergency care. The accident and emergency department at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough complained of people seeking treatment for having eaten too many Easter eggs.


On Easter day, more than 70 people, many of them children, were killed and 300 wounded in a park in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab region, by a bomb which Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (a splinter group of the Taleban) said it had directed against Christians. The Syrian army, backed by Russian warplanes, retook from the Islamic State the city of Palmyra and its adjoining ancient archaeological remains, where the Roman theatre and many standing columns were found to be intact. A lone Egyptian hijacker wearing a fake suicide belt forced a domestic flight to land in Cyprus and made ‘incoherent demands’ before being arrested. The number of lynx in Spain rose above 400.

Faycal Cheffou, the only person arrested and charged with involvement in the Brussels attacks that killed 32 people, was released for lack of evidence. A man named as Abderamane A, shot in the leg and arrested at a tram stop in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels, was charged over a foiled plot to attack Paris, along with another man known as Rabah N. Turkey said that Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who with his brother Khalid was thought to have been blown up in setting off bombs at Brussels airport, had been caught in June at the Turkish-Syrian border, and deported to Holland, which, with Belgium, was warned that he was a ‘foreign terrorist fighter’. Johan Cruyff, the Dutch footballer, died, aged 68. Maserati recalled nearly 21,000 cars in China to adjust the accelerator pedal.

Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war of 1992–95. A request by Argentina to extend its territorial waters to 350 nautical miles, which would envelope the Falkland islands, was granted in a non-binding way by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf set up under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In a 1,500-word letter to the state-run newspaper Granma, Fidel Castro, the former ruler of Cuba, aged 89, said he had not been much impressed by the visit of President Barack Obama of the United States. New Zealanders voted by 56.6 to 43.2 per cent to keep their flag featuring the Union flag in the canton, rather than replace it with a silver fern emblem. CSH