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What with being the first contestant to be voted out of the Big Brother house, not to mention facing ongoing calls to be burned at the stake by the Daily Mail, it's proved a fraught few days for Speaker's wife Sally Bercow. So, amid these troubled times, what could be more welcome than the sight of her very own knight in shining armour triumphantly emerging over the horizon with the express intention of putting Sally's numerous enemies to the sword? "Pray, who could this valiant warrior be?" I hear you ask. "Why, I think it's our favourite Estonian and glamour model-botherer Lembit 'Lancelot' Opik!" Oh! comes the admittedly deflated reply. Still, it's a bank holiday and Hugh Grant didn't have the decency to return my (numerous) calls. "There's a difference between having depth and being a celebrity," declares Lembit, himself a reality television reject of note. "Sally has something to say. I supported her decision to go on the programme. My advice to Sally would now be to pursue any libel actions." Her weary other Senor Bercow would be wise to keep the impressionable Sally away from this man's mysterious charms.

Leading article: Happy birthday from Henley

Yesterday was never going to be a cheerful first anniversary for the Prime Minister, but the results of the Boris Johnson memorial by-election must have made it a good deal worse. For Labour to come third in a true-blue constituency like Henley would be forgivable; to come fourth, after the Greens, would smack of carelessness. But to come fifth, behind the BNP and only just before UKIP, is little short of a catastrophe.

Letters: War wounds

Who cares about the war wounds that do not heal?

David Davis: You Ask The Questions

The former shadow home secretary answers your questions, such as 'Have you had a row with Cameron?' and 'Do you regret your decision?'

Bruce Anderson: Andy Burnham, Shami Chakrabarti, and the creeping encroachment of state power

Culture Ministers can have plenty of evenings out, but there's not enough to do in office hours

<i>IoS</i> letters, emails & texts, 22 June 2008

Three major events took place recently. Parliament voted for 42 days internment, David Davis resigned in protest against the creeping database state, and Ireland rejected the Lisbon treaty. The media managed to get all three events wrong.

Andy Burnham falls short of full apology to campaigner

The Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, has moved to defuse his damaging "smears" row with the civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti, but stopped short of saying sorry.

Dominic Lawson: This is more than a political knock-about &ndash; it's the inexcusable smearing of an opponent

The big smear started the moment David Davis announced his resignation to fight a by-election on the issue of Labour's erosion of civil liberties. It was said that Mr Davis had been "bewitched" by the director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti. The smear then grew, in the way these things do, to the allegation – unfounded, unjustifiable and, to any one who knows the happily married Ms Chakrabarti, unbelievable – that there was "something going on between them".

Andy Burnham: The Mr Nice Guy who talked his way into a nasty situation

Andy Burnham, 38, was known as the "Mr Nice Guy" of the Cabinet until the outcry over his comments about Shami Chakrabarti and David Davis.

What a liberty! Chakrabarti in threat to sue over Tory 'smear'

Furious civil rights activist threatens to sue cabinet minister over smears linking her to top Tory

Campaigner demands minister apologises in Davis smear row

Human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti hit back at Cabinet minister Andy Burnham today for trying to "smear" her association with resigned MP David Davis.

Davis officially triggers by-election

Tory MP David Davis officially resigned his seat today, triggering a by-election in Haltemprice and Howden on 10 July.

Poll finds public backs Davis on 42-day detention

David Davis has won significant support for his decision to fight a by-election on the issue of 42 days' detention, according to a survey for The Independent.

Pandora: Lembit looks for star comfort

Lembit Opik's encounter with Piers Morgan for GQ magazine was, by common consent, a most unfortunate one for the Liberal Democrat MP. Among the highlights of the tête-à-tête was Opik's potentially embarrassing description of his Cheeky Girl fiancée sharing a bed with her sister. "Liberalism is not just something I put on a ballot paper," he declared.

Bruce Anderson: In offering Labour an illusion of hope, David Davis may have done Cameron a service

Politicians whose views alter in middle life are always fascinating, and hazardous

'David Davis effect' cuts into Tories' poll lead

David Davis's sudden resignation triggered a seven-point collapse in Conservative support, a new poll indicates today.

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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...