News British Army soldiers in Basra, southern Iraq, 2004

In Sir John Chilcot’s diplomatic shorthand, they are the “difficult documents”. For the rest of us – those looking to brand Tony Blair and George Bush as war criminals, or those who believe the pair saved Iraq from the excesses of Saddam and the world from a potential WMD catastrophe – they are the communications that will reveal how close Washington and Whitehall were in the run-up to the 2003 war.

Blairites fight back with release of Damian McBride aides' emails

Hundreds of emails sent between Tony Blair’s closest allies as he fought with Gordon Brown for the leadership of the Labour Party were released tonight in an apparent attempt to pre-empt the serialisation of Damian McBride’s book.

Sir Bob Kerslake will be replaced as Head of the Civil Service – but not yet

Death rattle of the mandarins?

Reform is coming to the Civil Service, but some worry it will harm more than help

Sunbathing by the Thames as the heatwave continues in London and across much of the UK

Heatwave Britain - are we putting our heads in the sand about the weather?

Extreme summers are growing more common, says a top public health body, and it’s time to pay more attention to their hazards

Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's former chief of staff

Tony Blair's former chief of staff Jonathan Powell compares civil service culture with 'monastic order'

Powell says officials 'lacks the skills for coping with a modern society'

Tony Blair is thought to have long coveted a senior role in European politics and failed to secure the EU presidency in 2009

Tony Blair urges EU to elect a president (so who could be in contention?)

Former PM puts case for job he is said to have wanted in the past

Entwistle: "I'm convinced I've done all the right things"

The BBC Director-General maintained that he has acted entirely properly over the Jimmy Savile affair despite acknowledging that he was aware that Newsnight had been planning an investigation into the entertainer before it was dropped.

Delegates and officials from over 60 countries take part in the Friends of Syria conference in Tunis

Syrian regime must agree to ceasefire, says Hillary Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Syrian regime will have “more blood on its hands” if it doesn't immediately comply with cease-fire demands being issued by a group of 70 Western and Arab nations.

Diplomacy: Assad is not firing artillery at civilians, claims Russia

There is no proof that Bashar al-Assad's regime is using its heavy weapons to bombard Homs, the Russian Foreign Minister is said to have declared yesterday. Sergei Lavrov's comments on the besieged city came during a telephone conversation with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, as the Syrian opposition reported dozens more dead and injured.

Lord Corbett: What the ambassador forgot

The US is all over the place in its country-by-country response to the Arab Spring. Here support for military action, there a slap access the wrists – and in some cases simply silence.

Kathy Griffin, Palace Theatre, London

The boxes of the Palace Theatre are decorated with cherubs but on its stage the American comedian and reality-show star Kathy Griffin is busy stressing that her line

The Sonnets: 45

By William Shakespeare

Hoon took ultimate decision on naming

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game