Chris Smith - latest news, breaking stories and comment - The Independent
News Debris washed up by flood water in Moorland, where 40 square miles of the Somerset Levels remain underwater

Officials were told 12 months ago that rivers posed a serious risk but failed to take any action

Leading Article: Public opinion is well ahead of press on private conduct

IT HAS been an open secret in Westminster for some time, but this should be put on the record in the public interest: Nick Brown is a rather good Minister of Agriculture. He has only been in the job only since July and has achieved three impossible things before Christmas. First, the farmers have stopped whingeing about a townie Government conspiring against them. Second, he said his predecessor's ban on beef on the bone was silly, and promised it would go. And third, he got EU vets to agree that the ban on British beef should be lifted, which it may be in January. Well done. End of story? Well, not quite.

The good gays and the bad gays

WHEREAS THE political hurricane that engulfed and destroyed the ministerial career of Ron Davies has lasted for two weeks (and may drag on for much longer), the admission by Nick Brown, yesterday, of his homosexuality will be nothing more than a one-day squall. The feeling of embarrassment that he acknowledged in his statement will, as I can testify from my own experience of being "outed" by the News of The World in 1994, have turned to relief as he sits down this morning to his ministerial duties, with his position in the Government strengthened.

Letter: Flaunting it

Sir: Suzanne Moore's thoughtful essay on Peter Mandelson (Comment, 30 October) hits the nail on the head. Many people who regard themselves as tolerant of gays resent us "flaunting" our sexuality. The attitude is, "I don't care, so please don't tell me," which may seem reasonable enough but is in fact unfair.

Architecture: Playing to an empty house

The new Royal Opera House opens in 1999. Over budget and overly- criticised, it is a state-of-the- art lyric theatre. But will it have a company to perform in it?

Davies Resignation: The outing of tolerance - except in Downing St

I WAS ONCE mugged in South London - does that throw into question my sexual orientation? Of course not. This is why the Ron Davies affair, despite the speedy spin-doctoring of Alastair Campbell, is so peculiar. The rapid response to Davies's strange admission he had done something foolish and had been robbed was a way of avoiding further accusations of sleaze. Yet by avoiding the juicy issue - whether this is extra-marital and possibly gay sex - tabloid imaginations have not been quieted.

Gays not asked to leave Cabinet

THE MYSTERY deepened last night over Ron Davies's reason for resigning after gay former Conservative MP Matthew Parris named two Cabinet ministers as homosexuals - Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Peter Mandelson - who had not been required to resign because of their sexuality.

MPs attack News At Ten abolition plan


Opera house chief accused of bigotry

SIR COLIN Southgate, chairman of the Royal Opera House, faces the accusation of being a male chauvinist, who does not consider women can serve on the board of the opera house.

Ministry logo 'madness'

THE INNER-MOST thoughts of civil servants in Chris Smith's Department of Culture, Media and Sport were exposed last night in an angst-ridden exchange of e-mails about the new logo being designed for "rebranding" their office.

Arts: Where there's a will

London's ballet and opera is in crisis. If only Chris Smith would check his in-tray.

Why don't you please, Gerry Robinson?

The ruthless head of the Arts Council charms even his enemies. So far. Interview by Rachel Sylvester

Rugby League: Smith plans to put the record right

The St Helens wing is eager to lose that 'forgotten man' tag.

Design: Take a look at Britain's new tourist traps

Will Millennium fever and lottery funding turn our country into a giant theme park?

Art: The theatre steals the show


Outlook: Post Office can't have it both ways

THE POST OFFICE expects the best of both worlds. It wants to keep its monopoly but it also wants the commercial freedom to trash what private sector opposition does exist. Unfortunately for the Post Office, commercial freedom rarely comes without commercial risk.
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
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These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories