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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.

Brown backs Blears despite 'unacceptable' tax claim





Gordon Brown continues to have full confidence in Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, despite twice publicly branding her behaviour "unacceptable", the Prime Minister's spokesman said today.

Gentlemen's club has come to end, says Brown

Gordon Brown launched another bid to draw a line under the MPs' expenses scandal today, saying: "The gentlemen's club has come to an end."

Stadium delays alarm Benitez

Liverpool face the prospect of missing out on tens of millions of pounds in revenue, vital to their pursuit of Manchester United, by missing two vital deadlines for the construction of their new stadium, which is the cornerstone of the club's growth.

A dark day for Parliament. A new dawn for democracy?

Michael Brown, an MP for 18 years, reflects on a historic day at Westminster

Labour to axe MPs over abuse of expenses

Labour MPs found guilty of abusing the expenses system will be barred from standing as party candidates under measures agreed yesterday.

John Rentoul: A leadership election would do Labour a lot of good

The candidates to succeed Gordon Brown would need to pledge to go to the country

The Right Honourable Spongers... and the longest week in their lives

One by one, all three main political parties reeled from fresh revelations over their members' expense claims. Brian Brady and Jane Merrick report

The Sketch: Vote Labour! Yes, that really was the message

It was more like a memorial service than a campaign launch. Dull, dutiful, deadly. A husk of a prime minister introduced the proposition for the local and European elections: "Vote Labour! We sacked Elliot Morley!"

Latest expenses revealed as MPs join payback scramble

Ex-minister claimed £16,000 for non-existant mortgage as Health minister agrees to return £41,709 expenses

Minister to pay back £41,709 of expense claims

The health minister Phil Hope is to hand back £41,709 in taxpayer-funded MPs expenses, he announced today.

Tax authorities may close housing loophole

Exemption for 'second homes' faces abolition

Leading article: A flipping sense of entitlement

It is the details that do the damage. To be blunt, none of the MPs whose expenses were exposed last week has benefited unfairly from the public purse to anything like the extent of Sir Fred Goodwin, the former boss of RBS. His pension fund, paid for by the taxpayers that now own the bank, is worth £17m.

John Rentoul: Don't be wimps about these revelations

Instead of being so defensive about their expense claims, Labour should claim credit for promoting freedom of information

Labour rocked by expenses revelations

Brown, Mandelson, Straw and Blears highlighted in embarrassing leak

Letters: Aid for Afghanistan

Aid millions for Afghanistan end up back in the US
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The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
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Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
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Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
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One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
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The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
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peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
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Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
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Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
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Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
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
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Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster