News Arms deals fixer Ziad Takieddine has been refused entry to Britain

A controversial fixer for arms deals linked to an alleged corruption scandal that engulfed Nicolas Sarkozy has been refused entry to Britain.

John Walsh: Yes, Tom Stoppard, it was me laughing

How do you make torture entertaining? How do you stage terror, infanticide, brutalisation and extraordinary rendition in a way that leaves your audience uplifted and in the mood for a drinks party? That's the problem that faced the Human Rights Watch organisation at the weekend, as they staged their benefit night at London's Royal Court Theatre. Rather than relying, as they have in previous years, on the reportage of individuals (which can be a recipe for earnestness and gloom), the organisers commissioned several mini-dramas from famous playwrights and actors, under the umbrella title The Laws of War. I checked the programme: there were nine events – an hour and a half of gruelling statistics and savage political satire, before we could hit the free wine. "Enjoy," said the ticket-tearer. I scanned her face for signs of irony.

Rhiannon Harries: Health and fitness, fine. But what's with this modern-day obsession with perfect bodies?

What is the anti-smoking lobby going to do with David Hockney? There he was on last week's edition of The South Bank Show Revisited, in fine fettle at 72, sharp, energetic and talking extraordinary good sense. "I was sitting on a bench in Holland Park – watching the rabbits and the magpies," he recounted. "I lit up a cigarette and three great big girls go jogging by, see me smoking and wag their fingers at me. They think they're very healthy – they're totally obsessed with their own bodies and never saw the rabbits or magpies. They think they're healthy, but I think I'm healthier. That's my odd view of it."

Dame Mary Marsh: 'People thought I was mad'

The new chairman of London Business School's international alumni council tells Peter Brown what her MBA has meant to her.

Mark E Smith - A renegade's revival

Over 34 years, Mark E Smith has led The Fall through numerous upheavals. Tim Cumming talks to the frontman as he prepares to release Your Future Our Clutter, an album that stands, miraculously, among the band's best

Opera podcast: Opera Holland Park's new season

The auditorium has risen once more, the box office is open and busy, and the peacocks are warming up – Opera Holland Park is gearing up for the new season.

Leighton House Museum, Holland Park, London

Glorious Orientalism – but it stops at the bedroom door

Claud Wright: Senior civil servant who was also a leading expert in geology, palaeontology and archaeology

In the War Office there were a lot of old fossils. But the one who was the real fossil was Claud William Wright. He was not only a senior administrative civil servant, and when transferred to the Ministry of Education the first Permanent Secretary, in effect, to Lord Eccles' Ministry of the Arts under Margaret Thatcher, but also from an early age, a leading geologist, palaeontologist and archaeologist.

Hidden treasure: London's Leighton House is about to re-open after a £1.6m facelift

The 19th-century President of the Royal Academy, Frederic, Lord Leighton spent 30 years creating his very own "Private Palace of Art" on the edge of west London's Holland Park. It wasn't straightforward, but neither was his vision. Starting with a single house in 1866, designed by the architect George Aitchison under the watchful eye of the proprietor, the painter and sculptor Leighton slowly added a domed two-storey extension, which he stuffed with the most exquisite materials and furnishings the world's more remote regions had to offer. Three decades later, his labour of love was finally complete.

Philip Hensher: We have a right to know BBC salaries

If you work for the BBC, you are, like a lottery winner, allowed to tick the "no publicity" box

Bruce Anderson: Education is no place for idealism or egalitarianism

Have you heard the one about the journalist and the taxi- driver? It may sound like the stalest and most risible of clichés, but this time, it leads to an instructive story.

The long goodbye: What do Antonia Fraser's diaries of life with Harold Pinter add to the marital memoir?

Behind the celebrity froth of Fraser's diaries lies a tougher book about living and loving through adversity.

'My parents think I earn too much': (Well, he <u>is</u> the &#163;10m boss of RBS)

Bad enough having Britain's media bring up your £10m pay package every time your employer is mentioned – but the real problems for Stephen Hester start when he gets home.

La Boh&egrave;me, Royal Opera House, London<br/>Melvyn Tan, Wigmore Hall, London

This dusty, busty dowager is only propped up by tradition

David Randall: Is 'variety' not quite Ma'am's cup of tea?

Why light entertainment so rarely gets a gong

How to write a memorable song lyric

How do you come up with the perfect words to fit a killer tune? Rob Sharp learns from Don Black, the songwriting master who penned some of the best-loved lyrics of the past 50 years
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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