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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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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk