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January 26 - February 1 2011
μWorld News PAGES 14-17
μComment PAGES 18-21
μObituaries PAGES 22-23
μExpat Life PAGES 28-32
Coulson resigns Communications chief forced out by phone hacking accusations
‘There were 15 more like me’ New undercover revelations see Acpo’s role handed to the Met
Whither Apple? Can the computer giant survive without Steve Jobs?
Inflation busts through targets Bank of England faces tough decisions over interest rates
18 9 34 41 42 43 4 14 18 24 41 44
Bonus Ball 33
Bonus Ball 25
There were three winners of Saturday’s £4.5m jackpot and two winners of Wednesday’s £10.5m prize
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By Martin Beckford, Nick Britten, Andrew Hough and Murray Wardrop AS A member of the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Protection Unit, Paul Rice was expected to be alert to danger and keep Alan Johnson safe from potential threats.
Now the elite bodyguard has been suspended after being accused of dealing a fatal blow to the former home secretary’s political career by having an affair with his wife.
Pc Rice, 45, was part of the small team of officers detailed to provide “personal protection” to Mr Johnson during the year he ran the Home Office, when he would have been seen as a target for criminals and terrorists.
He guarded the senior Labour politician during appearances in Britain and abroad between June 2009 and May last year, and would have kept watch over his family home in Upper Norwood, south London.
It is there that the protection officer is thought to have met Laura Johnson, the MP’s second wife, leading to a relationship that is said to have led to her husband’s dramatic departure from front line politics because of “personal issues in my private life” last Thursday afternoon.
Pc Rice’s father, David, defended his son, saying: “My son is a grown man. There are two sides to every story and I don’t know why he is being pilloried.”
The policeman, who until recently has been working on protection duties for Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is separated from his wife. They have a nine-year-old son.
Pc Rice grew up in the West Country seaside town of Weston-super-Mare and married Michelle in 1994 at Hendon, near the Met’s
Michelle Rice: the estranged wife of elite bodyguard Pc Rice training college in north-west London. He once wrote on the Friends Reunited website that he was: “Working – happy where I am.”
Neighbours at the block of flats where he now lives in Watford said they believed he was abroad. One, who asked not to be named, said: “He seems a nice bloke but we hardly ever see him around. I suppose it’s because he works such long and erratic hours. I think he must be away. . . because I haven’t seen him since before Christmas.”
His estranged wife lives less than half a mile away in a two-bedroom semi-detached house in the centre of Watford.
The blonde 42 year-old refused to answer questions last week as she left her home with a grey-haired man in his forties. Her parents live in Bridgwater, Somerset, near Pc Rice’s home town. Last week, Daphne Perschky, her mother, refused to comment.
Mrs Johnson, 47, has remained at the family’s London home since the allegations. Last Friday, her husband, 60, was in his constituency of Hull and refused to speak to reporters as he met voters at his weekly surgery.
By Andrew Porter Political Editor
ED BALLS, the new shadow chancellor, last week moved to change his position on cutting the deficit to avoid an immediate showdown with Ed Miliband.
In his first day in the job following the departure of Alan Johnson, Mr Balls said he was “at one” with the Labour leader.
He had previously attacked Labour’s pre-election commitment to halve the deficit in four years. That put him at loggerheads with Mr Miliband and Labour’s last chancellor, Alistair Darling, and led to him being labelled “Britain’s number one deficit denier” by the Conservatives.
But last week Mr Balls said that improved growth rates had altered the position.
He said: “Let’s be clear, Ed and
Alan in the last few months have led a determined opposition against the fast, reckless and deep cuts that the Coalition are putting through, and I’m clear, if there was a Labour government today, we would be halving the deficit over four years, in fact we would be over-achieving.”
Mr Balls will share a suite with the Labour leader in the Commons. The two offices were used by David Cameron and George Osborne in opposition.
That will be interpreted as Mr Miliband making sure that he can keep an eye on a man who was his senior when they both worked for Gordon Brown during their time together at the Treasury.
Other key shadow cabinet members who have a chequered history with Mr Balls will also be brought into key meetings to ensure balance. Douglas Alexander, the new shadow foreign secretary,
and Liam Byrne, the new shadow work and pensions secretary, will attend each month.
Mr Miliband said that Labour’s economic policy remained “unchanged” – a clear reference to Mr Balls revising his own stance on deficit reduction.
But the Conservatives demanded answers from Labour on what its plan would be now if they were in government.
Michael Fallon, the Tory deputy chairman, said: “Labour maxed out the nation’s credit card and now can’t agree on how to deal with their debt. The question Ed Balls now has to answer is would he stick with Labour’s previous plan and start cutting in 10 weeks’ time. If so, what would he cut?”
Mr Balls, who was overlooked for the shadow chancellor job by Mr Miliband when he assembled his first frontbench team, called for Mr
Johnson’s privacy to be respected. He stood down because his wife was having an affair with his former protection officer, it has been reported.
Mr Balls was also forced to defend himself from accusations that he was instrumental in many of Mr Brown’s policies.
He said: “I think the reason why a year ago unemployment was coming down was because Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, in the face of a global financial recession, made the right calls,” he said.
“And over the last 13 years did we get everything right? Of course not, but Bank of England independence; not joining the single currency; investing in the health service; bringing young people into work — those were what people wanted to see.”
Matthew d’Ancona: Page 20
Continued from page 1
work he has done. I am sorry that he is having a tough time.” Mr Johnson’s resignation represented a significant blow to Mr Miliband’s attempts to establish Labour as an effective opposition to the Coalition. An emergency reshuffle saw Yvette Cooper, Mr Balls’s wife, take over as shadow home secretary.
Douglas Alexander becomes shadow foreign secretary, Liam Byrne will be shadow work and pensions secretary and Tessa Jowell takes over as shadow Cabinet Office minister. Mr Miliband confirmed Mr Johnson had left for “deeply personal reasons”, but insisted he had a “strong and confident” shadow cabinet.
One Labour MP told The Telegraph: “I am not surprised. Alan has not been happy in this job for some time. I accept that he’s said it’s personal reasons but there is no getting away from the fact that he was far from happy. He likes to be happy and he wasn’t.”
It was reported last week that Scotland Yard began disciplinary proceedings after learning of the alleged affair between Mr Johnson’s wife and Paul Rice, a detective constable who had been the MP’s protection officer when he was Home Secretary.
According to the Daily Mail the officer has guarded the current Home Secretary, Theresa May.
The day Mr Johnson was appointed shadow chancellor he joked about the need to grab “an economic primer” to help him learn about a subject he had never had to master as a politician. Despite holding a succession of jobs under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, none was in the Treasury.
His lack of knowledge was further exposed when he gave a wrong answer to media questions about what the employers’ National Insurance rate was.
David Cameron and George Osborne revelled in Mr Johnson’s discomfort. At Prime Minister Question’s this month, Mr Cameron told Mr Miliband that Labour now had “a shadow chancellor that can’t count and an opposition leader that doesn’t count”. Michael Fallon, the Tory Party deputy chairman, said: “It beggars belief that Ed Balls has been appointed as shadow chancellor of the exchequer. The man who is responsible for Britain’s economic mess has returned.”
After months of Labour MPs having to witness the lacklustre performances of Mr Johnson, they will hope that Mr Balls will land some blows on the Coalition. His promotion will be a source of concern among some, who believe he still harbours leadership ambitions and could yet undermine Mr Miliband. He finished third in the contest to succeed Mr Brown, behind the two Miliband brothers.
Last Thursday, Mr Miliband said of his new shadow chancellor: “Ed brings great expertise to this role and I look forward to working with him on the direction Alan and I have set out. Economic policy is unchanged. ”
Editorial comment: Page 19