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Francis Walsingham, who ran Elizabeth I’s secret service, built up a vast spy network to protect the Queen against the very real risk of assassination.

How C. difficile caused a seismic shift in health policy

The arrival of a virulent new strain of Clostridium difficile in Britain in the early 2000s caused a medical and political firestorm, led to hundreds of deaths and claimed the scalps of several NHS trust chief executives.

John Rentoul: The man who could have changed it all

Alan Johnson ducked his chance to be leader of his party, and David Cameron was the lucky beneficiary

John Rentoul: The shape of things to come

As the Lib Dems hold their ground, the Cameron and Brown camps must determine the price of victory

Two more 'in lobbying scandal'

Two more ex-Labour ministers were drawn into the lobbying scandal last night, after claims they had been secretly recorded offering to exploit government contacts to help business clients – for fees of up to £2,500 a day.

Geoff Hoon asked to relinquish Nato role

Former defence secretary Geoff Hoon was dropped from a Nato committee following his involvement in the lobbygate row, it emerged.

Nato asks Geoff Hoon to step down as policy expert

Geoff Hoon was yesterday asked to step down from his duties at Nato following his involvement in the "cash for access" scandal. Nato's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, asked the former British Defence Secretary to withdraw from a group of 12 policy experts drafting the military alliance's new mission statement after he learnt of Mr Hoon's suspension from the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Simon Carr: Just another dark day in a very gloomy year for Hoon and Hewitt

Sketch: We are just in the foothills of shame, really. Onwards and upwards!

Harriet Harman denies ex-ministers influenced decisions

Commons leader Harriet Harman denied today that ministers had been influenced by the alleged lobbying of former Cabinet ministers into making improper decisions.

Andrew Grice: Labour madness over lobbying scandal

Some "friends" of Gordon Brown are putting it about that he won't really be damaged much by the lobbying allegations against Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon because the three former Cabinet ministers are Blairites.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: The future of politics lies with women

The leaders are trying to charm us with vacuous words and meaningless policies

Ministers furious at new lobbying 'scandal'

Byers, Hewitt and Hoon face sleaze inquiry over 'cash-for-access' allegations

Blairite star Purnell quits as MP

As Labour unveils ‘A future fair for all’ campaign slogan, former minister tipped as future leader shocks party

Ex-minister Hoon to stand down as MP

Former defence secretary Geoff Hoon is to stand down from Parliament at the election this year, it was announced today.

John Rentoul: The biggest loser from this election will be positive politics

We are in the run-up to an anti-politics election. It is a dismal, life-denying prospect

Labour MPs rally behind Brown after plot

Gordon Brown drew the final line under the failed backbench coup against him by declaring last night that Britain's "hard-won economic recovery" could still be Labour's platform for election victory.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links