Portrait of the week

The week: Property price record; Lampedusa drownings; 'basically' banned

19 October 2013

9:00 AM

19 October 2013

9:00 AM


Shares in Royal Mail, floated on the stock market at 330p, began trading at 475p. SSE, the energy supplier, raised prices by 8.2 per cent, and other suppliers were expected to follow suit. Ofwat, the water regulator, said it would block Thames Water’s request to increase bills by up to 8 per cent next year. The rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Prices Index, remained at 2.7 per cent, and, as measured by the Retail Prices Index fell from 3.3 to 3.2 per cent. The average price of a property in the United Kingdom rose to a record £247,000. Unemployment fell to 2.49 million, and those with work rose to a record 29.87 million. Eleanor Catton, aged 28, won the Booker prize with The Luminaries. Harris Academy Upper Norwood, in London, banned pupils from beginning sentences with ‘basically’.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission questioned the ‘honesty and integrity’ of three police officers who misreported a meeting with Andrew Mitchell, the former chief whip, accused of calling police ‘plebs’. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said West Mercia police should take disciplinary action against the officers. A new Immigration Bill would require landlords to ensure that tenants have a right to live in Britain, Mrs May said. Four British men were arrested in Westbourne Grove, Whitechapel and Peckham, in London, by police investigating an alleged terrorist plot. Tian Tian, the giant panda that lives in Edinburgh Zoo, which was pregnant, miscarried. A three-week-old Sumatran tiger cub drowned in a pond in London Zoo.

The three main political parties conspired to impose press regulation through a royal charter that could be changed by Parliament. A group of businessmen, including the heads of Marks & Spencer and Diageo, reported to the cabinet that European Union regulations were costing billions a year. The Care Quality Commission said it was considering the use of hidden cameras in care homes. A bronze, ‘Standing Figure’, by Henry Moore, said to be worth £3 million, was stolen from the Glenkiln Sculpture Park near Shawhead, Dumfries and Galloway.


A boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized 70 miles off Lampedusa, and at least 30 died. Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, said: ‘As things stand we are just building a cemetery within our Mediterranean sea.’ Ali Zeidan, the Prime Minister of Libya, was abducted in Tripoli and held by militiamen for some hours. The Nobel peace prize went to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is attempting to put chemical weapons in Syria beyond use while the civil war continues. Muslim clerics issued a ruling that those in the besieged suburbs of Damascus could licitly eat donkeys, cats or dogs. The governor of Logar province in Afghanistan was killed by a bomb in a mosque during prayers for the festival of Eid al-Adha. At Tarragona, Spain, 522 people were beatified, mostly priests and nuns martyred by Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. A cyclone left 100,000 stranded in the Indian state of Orissa and destroyed 2,000 square miles of crops. Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian cricketer who is the only batsman to score 100 international centuries, is to retire after playing his 200th Test match in November.

The United States spent the week wrangling over raising its $16,699 billion debt ceiling, without which it would default on payments to government bond-holders. The American government was already in a state of shutdown, unable to agree a budget. President Barack Obama blamed the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Three academics from two American universities won the Nobel prize for economics. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on a trip to Beijing, said he wanted Chinese banks to expand in London.

The African Union summit in Ethiopia demanded that the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya at The Hague, due to start in November, should be deferred. It also passed a resolution that no sitting African head of state should appear before an international court. Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, asked that his 50-year sentence for war crimes should be served in Rwanda, but he was taken to Britain as agreed by the Special Court for Sierra Leone sitting at The Hague. According to Amnesty International, hundreds have died in detention in Nigeria as the army attempts to counter Boko Haram Islamist forces. The Mo Ibrahim prize for good governance in Africa was not awarded for the fourth time in five years because the organisers found no one suitable to receive it.           CSH

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