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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.

Robin Scott-Elliot: Lloyd takes bull by the horns in Twenty20 cow corner

View From The Sofa: ProBull Riding/World Twenty20, Extreme Sports/Sky

Editor-At-Large: Hard-up mums need to work, but kids pay dearly

Cameron Diaz says the planet is over-populated, and there's too much pressure on women to have children. She's right: I've managed four ex-husbands, a long-suffering partner, no kids and no pets, but deep down, I've always felt I made a selfish choice. My reasons, though, were very different from hers. There was never any question of having a family and a career when I started out, so I made a tough decision. I would never have got this far if I'd decided to breed, taken time off, and tried to combine motherhood with long hours.

Blears says 'sorry' for firestorm

Former Communities Secretary faces vote of no confidence in Salford constituency

Blears faces censure despite walkout apology

Hazel Blears apologised today for the timing of her Cabinet walkout as she faced a battle to hang on to her seat.

The dartboard coup that missed its target

Labour's rebels called it the dartboard strategy – a small circle of insurgents would target Gordon Brown in the hope that another 120 would join the game

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: These women fled the battlefield

Is it sexist to accuse Flint of liking to use her stilettos? Yes – but she asks for it

Simon Carr: True lies... a masterclass in the art of interview

The Sketch: Why aren't people rallying to Peter Mandelson as next leader of the Labour Party?

James Delingpole: Revenge - A dish best left to go mouldy at the back of the fridge

Hazel Blears got her own back, but the euphoria won't last

Battle for survival at No 10: Mandelson key to defeat of rebels

Business Secretary repays 15-year debt as he orchestrates the fightback, with Tony Blair also riding to the rescue. Brian Brady and Jane Merrick report

Beasts vs Belles: Sugar's arrival adds to women ex-ministers' complaints

He has just been given a peerage by Gordon Brown and came to the rescue of the Government in his new role as "enterprise tsar". And tonight, he will select his new apprentice from an all-woman final.

Sarah Sands: A two-minute video is all the truth I need

The publisher Caroline Michel explained the new business model to me over lunch last week. The important thing to grasp was that a book was no longer the starting point. These days the deal could begin with something as instant as a video clip. The video clip could lead to a book. The book could lead to a film.

Joan Smith: We don't do female sacrifice any more, Prime Minister

It was a bloodbath. Last week, like a wounded warrior trying to appease vengeful gods, Gordon Brown sacrificed one woman after another in a desperate attempt to save his own skin. By Friday evening, the stench of burning female flesh rose over Westminster as Margaret Beckett and Caroline Flint were added to the pyre, joining Jacqui Smith, Hazel Blears and Beverley Hughes. The cull was drastic, reducing the number of women in the Cabinet from eight, when Tony Blair left office two years ago, to a feeble four. There are now more peers (seven) than women round the cabinet table and Brown need lose only one more to be in the same position as John Major in 1997. So much for a Prime Minister who portrays himself, morning, noon and night, as a politician committed to fairness and equal rights. I mean, pull the other one, mate.

Howard Jacobson: There is nobility in opting out, in refusing what the world is offering

It’s why I admire J D Salinger from whom nobody’s heard aword for decades

Leading article: A reshuffle that betrays the Prime Minister's weakness

Mr Brown will not be able to restore his authority by willpower alone

Brown moves deckchairs around his Cabinet table

Blairites promoted to fill the gaps left by political soulmates / Jowell and Cooper move up as PM tries to answer female critics
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The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss