The Spectator

Portrait of the Week – 8 February 2003

A speedy round-up of the week's news

Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, returning from a meeting at the White House with President George Bush of the United States, said, ‘I believe there will be a second resolution,’ referring to a further United Nations Security Council vote for action against Iraq, the advisability of which he had tried to convince Mr Bush. Mr Blair then flew off to Paris to try, with little apparent success, to persuade President Jacques Chirac to back a new UN resolution; he took with him four Cabinet ministers – the secretaries of state for the home and foreign departments, for defence and for education – as well as Sir Michael Boyce, the Chief of the Defence Staff. Meanwhile the Commons voted against all seven ways presented to them in which the Lords might in future be constituted, including total appointment, favoured by Mr Blair, and full election, favoured by Mr Robin Cook, leader of the House. The Lords voted for appointment only. John Gregg, a self-styled brigadier of the Ulster Defence Association, was shot dead along with a fellow UDA member, Robert Carson. Gregg had resisted attempts by Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair, who is in prison, to become supreme commander of the terrorist group; members of the UDA under the name of the Red Hand Defenders said they had committed the murder. The Charity Commission banned Mr Abu Hamza from speaking at the Finsbury Park Mosque, which is run by the charitable North London Central Mosque Trust. The traditionally minded Anglican group Forward in Faith said that it had the interest of Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in its proposal to turn opponents of ordained women into a third province of the Church of England. No one would take responsibility for the paralysis of the road system in south-east England after a brief snowfall; hundreds of drivers on the M11 had been trapped overnight.

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