News

Previously secret documents indicate Margaret Thatcher knew about possible SAS involvement in 1984 Indian army raid

Leading article: Sri Lanka's destructive feud

An acrimonious election campaign and a disputed result provides an ominous start for what was meant to be a new era for Sri Lanka, after more than a quarter century of civil war. A country of rich potential had – indeed it still has – the opportunity to make a new beginning, following the conclusive defeat of the Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009. But the vote has underlined the deep and persisting divisions between the minority Tamils and the Sinhalese majority.

The secret's out: James McAvoy in the frame to play Bond creator Ian Fleming

In his rise to the Hollywood A-list, James McAvoy has already donned a tuxedo, dabbled in intrigue and played a tortured author. They are all on-screen experiences which will stand him in good stead if his latest rumoured leading role comes to fruition – a biopic of the James Bond creator, Ian Fleming.

Longy: Booze, Brawls, Sex & Scandal, by Sean Long

Take a tip from Sean Long: if you're on the lash in Blackpool and have pulled the fittest bird in the bar, try not to have a bowel-loosening moment when you step outside to have a pee against the wall. Especially if you're going commando and wearing white linen trousers.

Miss England steps down after arrest

Miss England Rachel Christie has relinquished her crown after being arrested on suspicion of a nightclub assault sparked by a row over a TV gladiator.

40 hostages freed in raid on Pakistan army base

Militants' ringleader captured as commandos end 22-hour siege

Obits in Brief: Captain Les Fernandez

Captain Les Fernandez, who died on 16 July aged 91, was a war hero who parachuted behind enemy lines in 1944 and who worked for the Special Operations Executive training others to do the same – including Violette Szabo, whose story was immortalised in the film Carve Her Name With Pride.

Inglourious Basterds (18)

A while ago, Bryan Ferry put his elegantly shod hoof in his mouth by commenting approvingly that the Nazis “knew how to put themselves in the limelight and present themselves”. Now Quentin Tarantino has managed to find something about the Nazis that he too can relate to: some of them could talk the hind legs off a donkey.

Tragic toll of Britain's Afghan war nears 200

Seven fatalities in seven days brings total number of troops killed to 199

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (12A), Stephen Sommers (118 mins)

The director Stephen Sommers, on the strength of his blockbusters The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, is now styled “explosive and visionary”.

G-Force (3D) (PG), Hoyt H Yeatman Jr., 88 mins

The director Hoyt H Yeatman Jr (an American, perchance?) says he got the idea for this adventure movie about guinea pigs as special agents from his five-year-old son. Thanks a lot, kid.

Dissident killings drove us to brink of war, says loyalist

A senior loyalist paramilitary leader has revealed how close Northern Ireland was to being returned to “the dark old days” after the dissident republican murders in March.

UVF has dumped all guns

The UVF and associated Red Hand Commando have decommissioned all weapons under their control, senior loyalists have told the Belfast Telegraph.

Games Review: Bionic Commando

PS3, Xbox 360, Capcom, £39.99
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'