The Week in Review: Home news

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The Independent Online
COMPUTERS and their managers had a bad week with the City of London set to lose more than pounds 275m after the Stock Exchange abandoned plans for a new system and a mix up at the National Westminster Bank meant up to 15,000 customers' payments went astray.

The City's fiasco led to the resignation of Peter Rawlins, chief executive of the Stock Exchange, after four years of development work on the Taurus system was cancelled.

More than 1,000 systems experts are also expected to lose their jobs.

Accounting mix-ups still plagued John Birt, Director- General of the BBC, whose former 'freelance' status was given up after protests that his salary was paid to a private company, John Birt Productions Ltd.

Speculation mounted as to who was Mr Birt's secretary who was paid pounds 15,000 by his company under administration expenses. The Daily Mail offered readers a chance to win pounds 500 or an Armani suit for the correct name. Mr Birt's company also listed pounds 3,666 wardrobe expenses in its accounts.

Earlier in the week Mr Birt wrote to the Times and accepted that it was 'inappropriate' for the Director-General not to be a BBC employee.

National No Smoking day passed on Ash Wednesday with opponents of restrictions on smoking having special defiance lunches against the 'sweeping nanny-state persecution of smoking minorities'.

Concerns about health appeared to worry British workers who take more than 200 million days off sick each year. A survey showed that employees of Japanese companies in Britain have half the absenteeism rate of domestic firms.

Saffiyyah Mirza, dubbed the 'Queen of the Skivers' after taking nearly 400 days' sick leave in three years, said she was unfairly dismissed from her pounds 16,500 a year job by Hackney council. She intends to provide medical evidence to support her case at an industrial tribunal.

Fishermen staged blockades at ports in the north of England and Scotland in protest at landings of cheap imports. Taking the lead from militant French fishermen, more action was promised if more fish were dumped on the market.

'If they can do it over there to British fish, we will do it here,' was the reaction of one fisherman.

Strong language may be used on the quayside, but not at the BBC. The screen version of Lady Chatterley's Lover, to be broadcast this spring, will tone down the strength of D H Lawrence's work. Some of the author's more colourful adjectives will be used extremely rarely while the worst are banned.