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
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future