Jim Armitage: Mandarins may have been outwitted on the probation service deal

Outlook Justice secretary Chris Grayling used emotive language to demand G4S and Serco "purge themselves" after the electronic-tagging scandal. The companies should, he declared, undergo "corporate renewal" before being considered for new government contracts.

The Silk Road has been described as the 'eBay of illegal drugs'

Silk Road website's secretive owners says drugs market ‘worth 10 or 11 figures’

The secretive owner of notorious online black market The Silk Road has boasted that his website is now so lucrative that he wouldn’t sell it for “less than 10 figures, maybe 11”.

Mark Leftly: Audacious they may be, but defence reforms look a complete mess

Outlook Bernard Gray is a yo-yo dieter, but when it comes to philosophical conviction he is as steadfast as the sturdiest dreadnought. Mind you, plenty of those super-battleships were sunk by undetected mines and enemies.

EL James claimed the top spot in Forbes’ list of the highest-earning writers

Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James named top-earning writer for 2012

The Brit succeeded crime writer James Patterson to top the list

HMS Ambush, part of the current fleet of four Trident submarines

Do we need Trident?

Is a Britain with nuclear missile-equipped submarines a safer place to live, now and into the future? That is the crux of today's debate on replacing Trident - the weapon system that will cost an estimated £100bn over the next 30 years.

Oh no he didn't: P Diddy isn't quite as well-off as he claims

Auditing hip-hop’s ‘billionaire’ boys club: Just how many rappers have no savings account?

Rappers aren’t exactly known for their modesty, preferring to fill their lyrics with endless references to Cristal and ice (diamonds). And, boy, do they love to brag about how rich they are. But how many of them are all mouth and no savings account? On the track “Versus” from the recent, Magna Carta Holy Grail, Jay-Z’s taunts fellow rappers about just how much they have in the bank: “The truth in my verses, versus your metaphors about what your net worth is.”

Palmed off on kids: Steve Carell voices Gru in 'Despicable Me 2', a sequel with nothing for adults

Despicable Me 2 beats Johnny Depp's The Lone Ranger to top US Box office

The animated film took more than $50m more than The Lone Ranger in its opening weekend

Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal arrives in court

Profile: Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud

That’s a mouthful, what do his friends call him?

The Bone Season author Samantha Shannon

Is Samantha Shannon the next EL James? The 21-year-old author of the The Bone Season set for success

A first-time novelist has been named as the next literary sensation set to follow in the footsteps of Fifty Shades of Grey writer EL James.

Chris Martin of Coldplay

Coldplay come top of the Brits on Forbes' celebrity power list as Oprah Winfrey ranked highest overall

Chart stars Coldplay are the highest ranked Brits on an annual global celebrity power list - as top-selling singer Adele plummets from the top 100 entirely.

Bloodbath of nostalgia: Michael Grade is preparing to say farewell to BBC Television Centre which is to be turned into a £200m complex of shops and offices

Former TV boss Michael Grade suggested as mediator to break deadlock on press regulation

Lord Grade, the former chairman of both the BBC  and ITV, has been suggested as a potential "mediator" who could help broker the current impasse over future press regulation.

Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat state, gestures on the podium

Is Mr Modi the man for India?

Narendra Modi isn't actually standing for election as Indian Prime Minister yet, although you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Since the main opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced he will be leading its election campaign, the world media has been busy sizing up his leadership potential.

'I am not afraid,’ says high-school dropout Edward Snowden, as he reveals his identity from a Hong Kong hotel room

Will Hong Kong harbour Edward Snowden?

Edward Snowden, the man who leaked the largest amount of classified information in the history of the NSA, has been advised to leave Hong Kong. A senior law official cited the city's extradition agreement with America as reason to hasten the departure of the whistleblower, who faces jail in America. But how will he fare should he stay?

Market Report: Investors rattled by overhaul at Pearson

New Pearson chief executive John Fallon looks to be on a mission to reshape the education giant in dramatic fashion, but the market did not seem convinced by his plans for a sweeping reorganisation.

Jeremy Paxman of Newsnight says he has heard senior Tories describe activists as 'swivel-eyed loons'

Jeremy Paxman reveals he has heard senior Tories calling activists 'swivel-eyed loons'

Newsnight presenter's disclosure further undermines attempts by the party to shut down affair amid continuing rows over Europe and gay marriage

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore