Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

13 July 2013

9:00 AM

13 July 2013

9:00 AM

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There was a fine game of hunt-the-issue over the process to find a replacement, as parliamentary candidate in Falkirk, for the Labour MP Eric Joyce (who had decided not to stand again after being convicted of assaulting a Labour whip in the Strangers’ Bar). The union Unite was accused by Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour party, of signing up its members to the Falkirk constituency Labour party without their knowledge. Unite’s chosen candidate Karie Murphy had been the officer manager of Tom Watson MP. Mr Watson resigned as Labour’s national election co-ordinator. The next day, Mr Miliband referred the imbroglio at Falkirk to the Scottish police, but not before a Tory MP, Henry Smith, had written to the Chief Constable alleging fraud. Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, denounced Labour’s investigation of the affair as a ‘stitch-up’ and condemned ‘Blairite critics’. Mr Miliband then made a speech calling for an end to the automatic levy of payments to Labour by members of affiliated unions.

Andy Murray won the men’s title at Wimbledon, the first Briton to do so since Fred Perry in 1936. Vince Cable, the business secretary, told Parliament that the government intended to float the Royal Mail on the stock market. The Post Office admitted that software defects had been found in a computer system that more than 100 sub-postmasters had blamed for apparent shortfalls leading to prosecution or demands for repayment. Newspaper owners came up with proposals for an Independent Press Standards Organisation. Lord Prescott resigned from the Privy Council after it contemplated the granting of a royal charter for regulation. Sir Elton John decided to have his appendix out.


Abu Qatada, who since 2005 had resisted deportation, finally agreed to leave and was flown to Jordan. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said Britain would opt out of 133 law-and-order measures in the Lisbon Treaty but seek to rejoin 35 of them, including the notorious European Arrest Warrant. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that ‘whole life tariffs’ for imprisoned criminals breached their human rights; the case had been brought by Jeremy Bamber (who murdered five of his family) and others. A judicial inquiry found that an armed police officer had ‘no lawful justification’ for shooting dead Azelle Rodney, ‘a mid-level career criminal’, in north London in 2005. The International Monetary Fund raised its economic growth forecast for Britain this year from 0.7 per cent to 0.9 per cent.

Abroad

The Egyptian army was criticised for shooting dead at least 51 people and wounding hundreds outside the Cairo Presidential Guard barracks where demonstrators in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood said Mohammed Morsi, the deposed president, was being held. Adly Mansour, a judge put in place as interim president by the army, announced the appointment as interim prime minister of Hazem el-Beblawi, who had served as finance minister after the deposition of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Earlier, the Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei had been named interim prime minister, but the Salafist Nour party was having none of it. The Muslim Brotherhood rejected Mr Mansour’s timetable for new elections and an offer of places in the cabinet. The grand sheikh of al-Azhar University, who had welcomed Mr Morsi’s removal, warned of civil war and said he was going into seclusion until the violence ended.

Ahmed Jarba, the new leader of the main Syrian opposition alliance, said he was prepared to offer President Bashar al-Assad a truce during the month of Ramadan to stop the fighting in Homs. A copy of a Pakistan government report leaked to al-Jazeera spoke of ‘culpable negligence and incompetence’ with regard to the nine years that Osama bin Laden spent in Pakistan before he was killed in 2011; his car had even been stopped by police for speeding in 2002 or 2003. Researchers found that China’s allowance of free coal to people in the north had led to a diminution of life expectancy of 5.5 years there, because of polluted air.

A Boeing 777 aeroplane from Korea crashed on landing at San Francisco and burst into flames; two of the 291 passengers died, one thought to have been run over by a fire engine. A train carrying 72 wagons of crude oil suffered brake failure and exploded in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing at least 13. A rainstorm over Toronto left 20,000 without electricity. The Nigerian Football Federation suspended four teams involved in two play-offs that ended with scores of 79-0 and 67-0.  – CSH

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