Home Immigration officials did not check the details of 500,000 people entering Britain by Eurostar trains, and left unread the biometric chip in passports of people entering the United Kingdom on 14,812 occasions in the first half of 2011, according to a report by John Vine, the independent chief inspector of the UK Border Agency. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, told Parliament that the UK Border Agency would be split in two, with the UK Border Force becoming a separate law-enforcement body. Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, confirmed the controversial appointment (opposed by the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee) of Professor Les Ebdon, the vice chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, as the head of the Office for Fair Access, a quango with powers to interfere in the admission of students to universities in England. ‘Everybody looks like clones,’ Dame Vivienne Westwood, aged 70, remarked during London Fashion Week, ‘and the only people you notice are my age.’
Companies and charities are to be paid more than £2,000 for each youth with poor educational qualifications that they place in employment or education under a scheme outlined by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister. After some rather synthetic accusations of exploitation, Sainsbury’s and Waterstones were among companies that withdrew from a government scheme giving young people unpaid jobs for between two and eight weeks, and Tesco decided to pay them. Much of southern and eastern England is now afflicted with drought,
Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, said, and the nation was told only to spend four minutes in the shower. The Royal Mail wanted to increase the price of second-class stamps from 36p to 55p.
The government received more money in January than it spent, and was on course to limit its borrowing to less than £127 billion this financial year. Five directors of Lloyds Banking Group will not receive bonuses totalling more than £1 million, after a loss to the bank of £3.2 billion from the mis-selling of payment protection insurance. M.R.D. Foot, who relinquished the editing of Gladstone’s diaries to become the historian of the Special Operations Executive, died, aged 92. The presumed widow of the 7th Earl of Lucan dismissed claims that his children had visited Africa as the place he had sought refuge after murdering their nanny in 1974. Police and animal welfare bodies suggested South Wales was overrun by Welsh Gypsy Cobs grazing on grass verges.
Abroad Eurozone finance ministers agreed to loan Greece 130 billion euros in a second bailout to prevent its bankruptcy in March, but only if it fulfilled a list of conditions. The troika of the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank will establish monitors in Athens. But even if Greece endures austerity for the next eight years, it will be saddled with a debt of 120 per cent of its GDP, by the troika’s reckoning, or 160 per cent, according to a confidential IMF assessment. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF,
the spectator | 25 february 2012 | www.spectator.co.uk was held by police in Lille investigating a prostitution ring. His lawyer said he did not know that women with whom he had had sexual intercourse were prostitutes: ‘I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman.’
Areas of Homs came under intense bombardment from the Syrian army. Marie Colvin, war correspondent for the Sunday Times, was killed in the shelling. President Bashar al-Assad had announced a referendum for 26 February on a new constitution establishing a multiparty system. In Yemen, half a dozen people were killed during elections for a replacement of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the only candidate being Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, the vice-president. The US commander of Nato troops in Afghanistan apologised after some Korans confiscated from Taleban were burnt at Bagram air base.
In Mexico, the head of Apodaca prison, Monterrey, was dismissed after 30 members of the Zetas drugs gang escaped during a riot, leaving dead dozens of the rival Gulf cartel. Khader Adnan, a Palestinian prisoner of Israel, who had not eaten since his arrest in December, ended his hunger strike on being promised release in April. A man found on 17 February in a snowcovered car in northern Sweden said that he had last eaten on 19 December. Scores of boats were smashed by ice floes as the Danube thawed in Belgrade. Scientists in Russia propagated narrow-leafed campion, Silene stenophylla, from fruits buried by Arctic ground squirrel and left frozen more than 30,000 years ago. CSH