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
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific