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A measure in George Osborne’s 2013 Budget which made no headlines outside the financial pages was the abolition of stamp duty reserve tax on UK-domiciled asset management funds. That may not sound like an attention grabber, but it was manna for Britain’s hedge-fund bosses, who by the Government’s estimate saw £145m drop off their companies’ collective annual tax bill.

In Zodiac Light, By Robert Edric

A moving portrait of breakdown, casual brutality and locked-in creativity

Rare butterfly rises from the ashes

One of Britain's most precious nature reserves has made a remarkable comeback from a fire which devastated it two years ago today.

Unique bird colonies at risk on British island

Conservationists are calling on Britain to act to save birdlife on a tiny British-owned island in the South Atlantic, which is now home to a quarter of the world's newly endangered birds.

Full list of MPs who employ relatives

MPs were under fire over their expenses again yesterday after more than 100 revealed they employ relatives from the public purse. Is your MP one of them? See the full list below

Richard Ingrams' Week: God forbid that religion is part of religious studies

Further confirmation that we live in a mad world came this week with the announcement that in future, the GCSE syllabus for religious studies will include the study of humanism.

Artichokes: Eat their hearts out

Majestic looking, versatile and easy to prepare, the artichoke is the crowning glory in Skye Gyngell's kitchen at this time of year

'Genghis Khan: the opera' rocks Mongolian capital

The thirteenth-century warlord Genghis Khan is best known as one of history's most bloodthirsty rulers, and at first glance appears an unlikely subject for a Jesus Christ Superstar-type rock opera. But in his native Mongolia, a rock opera has opened that gives the medieval empire builder the Genghis Khan Superstar treatment, claiming he had a softer, more appealing side which was overlooked.

Henson out of Wales squad amid fitness concerns

It would have been quite a sight: Gavin Henson, hair permed and legs waxed, playing Test rugby in wet and windy Patagonia, where the local definition of a prima donna is a farmer with a centrally-heated house. Unfortunately, the celebrity centre has been withdrawn from the Wales squad to tour Argentina this summer after failing to meet fitness standards. He will, according to the new national coach Gareth Jenkins, spend the summer "getting himself right" with an eye on next year's World Cup in France.

'Date-rape' cigarette fear

REVIEWS: CLASSICAL - Mark Bebbington Huntingdon Hall Worcester oooo9

"You know, I love him more each time," Stanford remarked of the "unteachable" Ivor Gurney as he threw him out again. Mark Bebbington has recorded all Gurney's nine known piano Preludes, produced in a creative spate in 1919-20 during a period that yielded hundreds of songs and continued even beyond autumn 1922, when Gurney was banged up in Dartford Asylum. One of the Preludes and two freshly uncovered Gurney pieces figured in Bebbington's inventive recital at Huntingdon Hall, a gloriously revamped chapel.
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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
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Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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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
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick