News Lord Butler himself was asked to investigate two cases of potential ministerial misconduct

Britain’s most senior civil servants should no longer be asked to investigate accusations of ministerial misconduct because they do not have the “powers” to get to the truth, the former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Robin Butler, has suggested.

Liam Fox: Why the Conservatives say we must stay on in Afghanistan

It has not been an easy week for British troops in Afghanistan. Two soldiers were killed by improvised explosive devices, which cause more than 80 per cent of our fatalities in Afghanistan. Five more were killed when an Afghan policeman opened fire on his British mentors.

Brown retreats over TA training cuts

Gordon Brown staged a dramatic climbdown over cost-cutting plans to suspend routine training for the Territorial Army.

Tory storms face MoD's weather forecasters

Britain's weather forecasters face being sold off under Tory plans to save money, said the shadow defence secretary, Liam Fox. He said the Met Office, now owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), could be privatised to save cash if the Conservatives win power.

The Sketch: There's a new order – and Harriet will run it

The swan will not fly. The sunfish will not swim. Harriet Harman will not run for Labour leader. The natural world is running on new rules. Maybe it's global warming.

'Endemic' problems on MoD kit purchases

The Government’s system for purchasing defence equipment is in such a state that “the problems and sums of money involved have almost lost their power to shock, so endemic is the issue”, according to an official report.

Tories plan to slash MoD costs by 25%

The Tories aim to slash 25 per cent off the cost of running the Ministry of Defence as part of a sweeping review of the UK's military capabilities, it emerged today.

Labour's fiercest critic on Afghan war gets Tory job

Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the Army who has criticised the Government over its tactics in Afghanistan, is to become a Tory adviser on defence policy.

Brown in row over sending more troops to Afghanistan

Gordon Brown was embroiled in a bitter row with the former head of the Army today over claims that he turned down pleas for more troops in Afghanistan.

Liam Fox: History does not show that war in Afghanistan is unwinnable

We can describe failure in Afghanistan, but can we describe success? What does our idea of winning look like? Success in Afghanistan will be achieved when we have a stable enough Afghanistan, able to manage its own internal and external security to a degree that stops interference from outside powers and allowing the country to resist the establishment of terror bases and the training camps that were there before.

MoD's £35bn defence black hole is 'lethal'

Government has wasted taxpayers' money for a decade, leaked report shows

Pandora: Cameron's swinging plans on spending

David Cameron has been at pains to talk tough of late when it's come to his party's future spending plans.

Stop MoD payouts appeal, says Minister's aide

An aide to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth today urged him to drop his appeal against compensation awards to two injured servicemen.

Fight for our veterans: 'Operation claw back compensation'

Chorus of disapproval greets launch of MoD's legal action to reduce payments made to injured soldiers

Shot soldier has to fight on two fronts

A British soldier was at the centre of two major battles today - fighting the Taliban and in a Government court challenge over injury compensation for the armed forces.

The Sketch: Left to right, and back to front

It's too heavy to get angry, so let's sit in this fridge and wonder why the Gordon Balls axis of persuasion makes us so hot under the collar.

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Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
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Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
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Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
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scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
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Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

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Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

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Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

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Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

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Rodgers fights for his reputation

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Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

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Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

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