Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

12 April 2014

9:00 AM

12 April 2014

9:00 AM

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Maria Miller resigned as Culture Secretary after a week of being the centre of a game of hunt-the-issue. She had paid back expenses, but only the £5,800 requested by the Commons standards committee, not the £45,000 suggested by the parliamentary commissioner for standards; she had apologised in the Commons, but her apology lasted only 32 seconds; her special advisers were accused of putting pressure on the Daily Telegraph not to report on her expenses embarrassment because she had power over newspaper regulation; the chairman of the 1922 Committee called the scandal ‘toxic’. Mrs Miller told her constituents: ‘I am devastated.’ Teesside Crown Court heard that John Darwin, who faked his own death in 2002, has paid only £121 of a £679,000 proceeds-of-crime order.

The International Monetary Fund said that the British economy would be the fastest-growing in the G7 this year, at 2.9 per cent. From September new methodology at the Office for National Statistics will add between 2.5 per cent and 5 per cent to Britain’s gross domestic product. Lord Robertson, the former secretary general of Nato, in a speech on Scottish independence, said: ‘The loudest cheers for the break-up of Britain would be from our adversaries and from our enemies.’ Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, appealed against a judge’s ruling that he should decide if men who had sexual intercourse with men should be allowed to donate blood in Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the United Kingdom; Mr Hunt said it should be a devolved matter. Sir Anthony May, the Commissioner for Interception, said that the 514,608 requests in 2013 for data (such as who owns a particular telephone) had ‘the feel of being too many’. Peaches Geldof, the daughter of Bob Geldof and the late Paula Yates, was found dead at her home in Kent; she was 25. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, discovered a music trio: ‘Who I really like right now is London Grammar. I think they are brilliant.’


President Michael D. Higgins became the first Irish head of state to make a state visit to Britain; Martin McGuinness, the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland and former IRA commander, attended the state banquet at Windsor. The Queen, on a visit to Pope Francis, gave him some honey and a jar of chutney. He gave Prince George an orb bearing the cross of St Edward. Prince George accompanied his parents on a tour of New Zealand and Australia. Pineau De Re, ridden by Leighton Aspell and trained by Dr Richard Newland, won the 167th Grand National at odds of 25–1. Oxford won the 160th boat race by 11 lengths.

Abroad

More than seven million people, out of an electorate of 12 million, voted in the Afghan presidential election. In Hungary, the prime minister’s Fidesz party won a landslide, but the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said it had unfairly benefited from changes in electoral rules. Quebec separatists were routed in regional elections. In the Indian general election, which continues until 12 May, the Congress party was expected to lose seats. The search continued in the southern Indian Ocean for remains of flight MH370, which went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board. Mickey Rooney, the American film star who married eight times, died, aged 93. A small 15th-century Ming cup decorated with chickens sold for £21.5 million in Hong King

Pro-Russian demonstrators seized Ukrainian government buildings in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk. The building in Kharkiv was soon retaken. The United States, the EU, Russia and Ukraine agreed to hold talks. Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch priest in his seventies who refused to leave the besieged Syrian city of Homs, was killed with two shots to the head. After American forces returned to the Libyan government a tanker loaded with oil by rebels in the east of the country, negotiations led to the reopening of terminals at Zueitina and Hariga. Drought continued in California for a third year. Tungurahua volcano near Quito, Ecuador, sent up a plume of ash six miles high.

After a statistical revision, Nigeria’s GDP for 2013 was given an 89 per cent increase, making the country Africa’s largest economy. Toyota recalled 6.4 million vehicles with various faults. A nine-month-old boy, Muhammad Mosa Khan, appeared in court in Pakistan charged with planning a murder, threatening police and interfering in state affairs, after police had stones thrown at them. A Baltic fishing net scooped up a bottle, inside which a message had been put by a man from Berlin in May 1913.            CSH

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