News Office politics: Mr Ortikov’s troubles began as a British embassy employee

Guard who refused to be a spy says UK turned its back on him

Stolen diaries reveal Blair plan for coalition

TONY BLAIR offered to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats during secret talks six months after the general election it emerged yesterday, after details of the meeting, stolen from Paddy Ashdown's private diaries, were published.

Hughes gets home affairs portfolio

CHARLES KENNEDY buried the hatchet with Simon Hughes yesterday by appointing his main rival for the Liberal Democrat leadership to the senior post he coveted.

Time for a reality check as Kennedy takes the stage

`There are overtones of The Life of Brian - "What have the Romans ever done for us?" '

Cook under fire for dam project

ROBIN COOK faced more criticism of his "ethical foreign policy" last night amid claims that the Government was preparing to help to fund a dam project in Turkey.

Thatcher says EU talk just `tittle-tattle'

BARONESS THATCHER sought to calm the storm over her comments that Britain should pull out of the European Union, dismissing them yesterday as "just dinner party tittle-tattle".

Comment: The appeal of the well-oiled oldie

Strangely, the general rule that applies to sex is reversed when it comes to booze

Tories `want to pull out of Europe'

THE TORY party was accused last night of wanting to pull Britain out of the European Union after party chairman Michael Ancram appeared to back calls to "renegotiate" membership of the EU.

Leading Article: Could the real Charles Kennedy now step forward?

NO MORE Celebrity Countdown, then. The most immediate consequence of the election of Charles Kennedy to the leadership of the Liberal Democrats is to deprive the makers and viewers of daytime television's quiz shows of one of their more versatile and entertaining guests. It would be churlish to dwell on this, but Mr Kennedy's frequent appearances in the magic rectangle have paid him a substantial political premium: the "name recognition" they delivered amongst the party's so-called "armchair membership" will have had a lot to do with his victory in this election.

Mr Blair can help the Lib Dems - but do they want to be helped?

The Lib Dem leadership contest has been a dismal affair, doing little to excite even the party's members

Reluctant Ashdown endorses Kennedy

CHARLES KENNEDY'S hopes of becoming leader of the Liberal Democrats have been boosted by winning the vote of Paddy Ashdown, the outgoing leader.

Robertson to build bridges with Russia

THE DEFENCE Secretary,George Robertson, spoke yesterday about the delicate diplomatic balancing act he will have to perform as he takes the helm of Nato going into a 21st century of " trouble and turbulence".

Politics: Hughes aims to benefit from Kennedy wobble

SIMON HUGHES will try to seize the initiative in the race to become the next Liberal Democrat leader by attacking Charles Kennedy's plans for closer links with Labour.

Leading Article: The race for the Lib Dem leadership takes a new twist

THEY'RE OFF - again! The wacky race that is the Liberal Democrats' leadership campaign takes another turn. Most of the declared runners have confirmed their candidacy - for now - and handed in their nomination papers. Only Don Foster, the party's education spokesman, has decided to do the decent thing and withdraw. His "pro-project" stance - much closer links to Labour - was unlikely to be a popular pitch. A forceful and authoritative case for the party to extend its co-operation was there to be made, but Mr Foster was not the best figure to make it. The leading contender for that cause, a man whose articulacy would have enlivened the race, was Menzies Campbell who declared himself a non-runner at an earlier stage. So we are left with no less than four candidates who are sceptical about closer links with Labour - Simon Hughes, David Rendel, Malcolm Bruce and Jackie Ballard - and one candidate, Charles Kennedy, who remains equivocal.

UK plans for UN reserve army

Military

Parliament & Politics: Liberal Democrats - Foster begins leadership bid

THE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT leadership campaign became more crowded yesterday when Don Foster became the sixth challenger to launch his official bid to take over from Paddy Ashdown.
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Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas