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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