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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.

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

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".

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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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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