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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.

Richard Ingrams's Week: One rule for Hogg and another for Cameron

I have never been all that keen on wisteria, that woody rambling climber that left to its own devices will cover the front of many country cottages producing masses of pale mauve blossoms at this time of the year.

Kenwright: summer budget will be tight

Everton chairman hails manager's success despite lean finances

No 10 defends ministers over tax advice claims

Downing Street today moved to defend ministers under fire for claiming for tax advice on their parliamentary expenses.

Four Labour MPs face discipline panel

Four Labour MPs accused of abusing their expenses face the prospect of being forced to step down when their cases are judged by their party's new disciplinary panel today.

MPs hired ex-minister's husband for tax advice

An MP's husband provided personal tax advice to at least five Labour MPs - including Foreign Secretary David Miliband - paid for by parliamentary expenses, it emerged today.

Cameron invites political novices to join the Tory candidates' list

But call for open selection process may be incompatible with leader's demands for immediate election

Brown calls Blair in to No 10 for secret talks as crisis mounts

PM's announcement of national plan for Britain came day after hour-long one-to-one meeting

John Rentoul: If Esther's the answer, the question is wrong

Neither Ms Rantzen, nor Katie Price, can transform our parliamentary system. Trendy quick fixes are not the solution

Voters turn on main parties

Poll shows 80% want independent candidates to challenge 'unethical' MPs at ballot box

Andrew Grice: Off with their heads! But is Westminster justice fair?

The body count is soaring as party leaders crack down on MPs caught in the expenses mire – but backbenchers are first for the chop

Simon Carr: Maybe we've only just begun. Here are three possible effects...

<i>The Independent's</i> sketchwriter on the deadliest of scandals

Phantom mortgage MP to leave Commons at election

The MP for Wirral South, Ben Chapman, last night became the first Labour MP to announce that he would stand down as a result of the scandal over parliamentary expenses.

The Sketch: And for his next trick, Gordon hits himself

How agile do prime ministers need to be? Not agile at all, is the strict answer, but only as long as nothing happens. If there is an event, the ideal prime minister deals with it.

Pandora: A twist in the tale of Hazel's big cheque

Time for the latest chapter in the enduring saga of Hazel Blears and her peculiar relationship with HM Revenues and Customs, as it emerges that Ms Blears' promise to add £13,332 to the nation's coffers may be rather more complicated that it first seemed.

Brown tries to head off poll boycott by activists

Email apology to party workers after fears that campaign is moribund
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent