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Even the room somewhere in Westminster where the historic meeting was to take place was kept secret until the last minute. Once “C”, Sir John Sawers, and his two colleagues arrived, the Intelligence and Security Committee chairman Sir Malcolm Rifkind announced a time delay on the TV broadcast lest anything endangering national security should be said. Mysteriously, the man sitting immediately behind MI5’s Andrew Parker bore a passing resemblance to Nikita Khrushchev. We were, in short, all keyed up.

Jane Merrick: Miliband – heir to Blair the smiley Emotibot?

Why has the Foreign Secretary challenged the Prime Minister now? And why has the likeliest winner not yet decided to run?

Wyness quits on eve of stadium decision

Everton have been left to contemplate the atrocious timing of their chief executive's resignation, days before a Government ruling which could jeopardise one of the most significant moments in the club's history: their move from Goodison to a new purpose-built stadium at Kirkby.

Brown make prices pledge after defeat

Gordon Brown today vowed to do "whatever is necessary" to help people struggling with rising food and fuel prices in the wake of Labour's catastrophic defeat in the Glasgow East by-election.

Muslim panel to advise on rights and wrongs of veil

The wearing of the Islamic veil will be one of the issues examined by a panel of Islamic experts that is being set up by the Government.

Terence Blacker: We can all see you're conning us, Hazel

In a near-perfect piece of political casting, Hazel Blears has introduced a White Paper on local government, hilariously entitled Communities in Control. Like the smilingly officious primary schoolteacher she occasionally resembles, Ms Blears has patted the electorate on the head and has promised lots and lots of new rules to make things better for everybody.

Tories 'in disarray' at Lewis departure

Labour moved to capitalise on a setback for David Cameron's Conservatives yesterday, claiming the party was in disarray after the resignation of the London Mayor Boris Johnson's deputy, Ray Lewis.

Not in our backyard! A Bill that threatens historic right to protest

More than 60 Labour MPs are threatening to derail plans to weaken people's long-standing right to oppose the building of new nuclear power stations and airport runways in their own "backyards".

Hazel Blears breached rules over data on stolen PC

The Government has suffered yet another embarrassing data loss after a cabinet minister breached its rules by holding confidential information on a personal computer.

Minister's computer stolen

A computer has been stolen from the constituency office of Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, it was revealed today.

Davis forces by-election over 'erosion of freedoms'

The shadow home secretary David Davis shocked Westminster today by announcing that he was resigning as an MP to "take a stand" against the Government's 42-day terror detention plan.

Poll blow to PM

Labour now 17 points behind the Tories as it faces crucial by-election test. Voters suggest Gordon Brown must be dumped if party is to win next election

Dominic Lawson: He appears to have robotic self-discipline. But inside, Brown is a ferment of emotion

It's amazing what robots can do these days. This week a humanoid named Asimo conducted – or appeared to be conducting – the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It was rather sweet, actually: four foot three inches tall, shiny white (apart from a red Honda logo on its back) – and capable of a courteous bow at the beginning and end of the performance. The audience, and the orchestra itself, seemed to love it.

Michael Brown: It's far worse for Brown than it was for Major

The Labour peer Lord Desai recently compared Gordon Brown's style to "porridge – maybe haggis". The question is whether the Prime Minister is now toast. With Frank Field still – a decade on – "thinking the unthinkable", albeit now with apologies, the mutterings are turning to the once unthinkable option of consigning Mr Brown to the dustbin of history without even giving him the opportunity of facing the electorate.

Alan Watkins: Mr Brown is running out of friends

David Cameron is starting to look like a future prime minister, while the current occupant of No 10 is short of ideas and allies

Britain's new national sport: Taking pot shots at Brown

He is facing abuse, plots and damaging revelations. What a time, then, for the beleaguered premier to face the voters. Jane Merrick and Brian Brady report
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Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

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Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
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'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
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The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
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The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
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Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

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S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London