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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…

Catherine MacLeod: A good 'spad' is trusted by the minister – and speaks for him

Being a special adviser at the heart of the Government is necessarily a privileged but hugely sensitive role. When Alistair Darling, then the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, asked me to be his special adviser in the Treasury in 2007 I had little idea of what was expected. There was no job description. It was a case of feeling my way, finding a modus operandi best suited to looking after his interests.

Leading article: A shameful tax avoidance culture

It was bad enough when it was only Ed Lester, the head of the Student Loans Company, who was enjoying lower taxes thanks to his being paid as a private contractor rather than a government employee. The implications grew darker when the Department of Health was forced to admit that two dozen of its senior staff were also pulling the same stunt. Only now, after a much-needed Whitehall-wide review, is the full extent of the rot revealed – and it should make both the non-mandarins themselves, and those who waved through their advantageous arrangements, blush with shame.

NHS workers reject pension reforms

Government hopes of resolving the bitter public sector pensions dispute were dealt a fresh blow today when a group of health workers rejected the controversial reforms.

Leading article: Lessons still to be learnt from grammar schools

Last week, it was the Education Secretary, Michael Gove.

John Rentoul: As Hilton heads off, Cameron Mark II begins

Dave prefers George's 'cold calculation' to Steve's 'idealism'
The Immigration minister, Damian Green, said BAA and the Border Force had to work better together

Visa scheme led to mass illegal migrant influx

Immigration chiefs were accused yesterday by MPs of presiding over "complete chaos" when the bungled introduction of a new student visa regime led to an influx of migrants to Britain to work illegally.

John Rentoul: Osborne is not Brown, but the faultline is showing

The Chancellor is the pole around which disaffection organises itself

An absolute shower: Prince Charles fulfils a lifelong ambition

Philip Hensher: It's tough to sack a civil servant (I should know)

The number of civil servants has, interestingly, dropped very substantially under the Coalition. Whether as a result of redefinition or of stripping down, the numbers have fallen since the Brownite high point, from over half a million to a mere 434,000.

Francis Maude: Weed out poor civil servants

A senior minister says Whitehall managers must step up efforts to identify and dismiss poorly-performing civil servants.

Prison staff take part in a protest outside HMP Manchester, as public sector workers go on strike in a row over pensions

Union leaders threaten more public sector strikes

Union leaders today warned that Britain could face a year of strikes by public sector workers if the increasingly bitter row over pensions  is not resolved.

Government 'destroying communities' say union leaders

The Government was attacked today for "destroying" communities with its spending cuts and other policies as thousands of trade unionists, pensioners, students and activists took part in the annual May Day celebrations.

Never knowingly undersold: Lord Hutton to chair coalition's first John Lewis-style spin-off

The former Cabinet minister Lord Hutton will this week be named as chairman of the first company to be spun out of Whitehall as part of the Government's vision to create a "John Lewis economy" of employee-owned businesses.

MoD civilian workers join pensions strike

Thousands of civilian workers in the Ministry of Defence and staff in other Government departments are to join another national strike next month in the long-running row over public sector pensions.

Frontline immigration staff becoming 'box-tickers'

Frontline immigration staff are becoming little more than “box-tickers and rules followers” as a result of the Government's passport-checking policy, according to the former head of the UK Border Force.

Siobhan Benita: 'I can feel from the attention that we're getting that people are really behind us'

Mayoral candidate has no profile, but ambition to spare

Siobhan Benita could surprise a few people. By Oliver Wright

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Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
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Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
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Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
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The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"