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Bethany Doughty worked as an actuary for 10 years before deciding to retrain as a maths teacher. It has proved to be a lifechanging move, for all the right reasons…

Promotions given to 'appalling' civil service staff, ministers claim

"Appalling" civil servants are promoted out of jobs that they're failing in as part of a culture that "protects inadequacy", government ministers have said in anonymous interviews.

Larry, Downing Street's ratcatcher, has yet to make his first kill

Being poor isn’t hard – skin the cat and make a cosy hat!

The Department for Making The Poor Poorer has been very busy recently

Bruce Forsyth poses for photographs after receiving his knighthood in 2011

Britain's honours system set for shake-up, with ministers given powers to 'fast track' nominations for knighthoods and other awards

Ministers are to be given the power to ‘fast track’ nominations for knighthoods and other awards as part of plans to radically shake-up of Britain’s ancient honours system.

George Entwistle and Sir Jeremy Heywood demonstrate the dangers of narrow professional experience in our highest public servants

The French call it déformation professionnelle - but these blinkered men of the machine are not an exclusively Gallic phenomenon

Assad troops 'kill 106 in one village'

Up to 106 people, including women and children, were killed as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad swept through a small farming village, torching houses and shooting and stabbing residents, activists claimed today.

Civil servants ballot for strike action over pay and pensions

Around a quarter of a million civil servants are to be balloted about taking part in a fresh round of strike action, to protest against cuts to pay and pensions and poorer working conditions.

Lord O’Donnell has accused ministers of blaming officials for self-inflicted problems

Ministers 'attack civil servants to deflect blame from Coalition'

Former Cabinet Secretary Lord O'Donnell says the Government has undermined morale

Quiet, steely and cricket-loving, Hart was much more used to settling disputes over a pint

Jack Hart: Trade unionist who took on the Tory government over the ban on unions at GCHQ

Jack Hart, a leading signals specialist, was an unlikely trade union activist, but on 25 January 1984, Hart, then chair of the committee representing all civil service trade union branches at GCHQ, was summoned to a meeting to be told that the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had decided to ban all unions at the government's secret listening centre in Cheltenham, and at other listening posts. Workers had a choice of leaving their unions or being dismissed. Those who gave up their membership were to receive £1,000.

Whitehall's bid to save £50m, one paperclip at a time

Tax collectors have set up "swap shops" to redistribute surplus envelopes and briefcases. In one Whitehall outpost, staff are using ash from their bio-mass burner as garden fertiliser. Elsewhere, Home Office officials have taken to generating electricity from bootleg alcohol.

Coalition heads for storms as parties diverge before election

Civil Service will need to defuse rows over public spending review, think-tank warns

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez 'in good mood' after surgery

Vice President Nicolas Maduro surprised Venezuelans with a Christmas Eve announcement that President Hugo Chavez is up and walking two weeks after cancer surgery in Cuba, but the news did little to ease uncertainty surrounding the leader's condition.

The shell-loving scientists torn apart by a mystery woman

They lived in Edwardian England at a time of impeccable manners and stiff upper lips, but for these two gentleman scientists something very bitter and acrimonious must have happened to destroy a 25-year collaboration on the study of microscopic sea-shells collected from the other side of the world.

George Entwistle resigned from the BBC

BBC takes advice on clawing back pay-off to director-general George Entwistle

The BBC has taken legal advice on whether it can recoup some of the £450,000 payoff given to director-general George Entwistle, Lord Patten said today.

‘Worst’ civil servants to be named

The worst-performing 10 per cent of senior Whitehall mandarins are to be identified for the first time and put into a programme of “performance management” which could ultimately lead to their dismissal.

We’ll have to work longer and live on less in old age, warns top civil servant

The head of the Civil Service has warned that the public will have to cut costs and work for longer to fund their retirement.

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Dennis Rodman has confirmed he is not going to the Middle East to 'talk to with the leaders of Isis' as claimed in a recent satirical report
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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
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