i's year in news

It’s been 12 months since the first issue of i went to press and the big stories have come thick and fast. Luke Blackall celebrates 365 event-filled days

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The Independent Online

While news never sleeps, i's first year has coincided with 12 months of particularly compelling stories. We had barely launched when the first big story broke. On 10 November last year, 50,000 protesters took part in the National Union of Students march against proposals that would see university fees hit £9,000 a year.

The march started peacefully, until a group of students and anarchists broke away from the main protest and broke into Millbank Tower, part of the same complex as the Conservative Party headquarters. After smashing glass and spraying graffiti, the group made their way to the roof. When order was restored, 54 people had been arrested, including one student who threw a fire extinguisher from the roof.

A couple of days later, and the first big international news arrived. After spending 15 of the previous 21 years under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the democracy movement in Burma, was released by the ruling military. The Nobel Peace Prize winner later revealed that while in captivity, she had enjoyed Dave Lee Travis's radio show on the BBC World Service.

The beginning of December saw heavy snowfall around the country, resulting in airports as far apart as Gatwick and Edinburgh closing for business, while more snow at the end of the month caused problems for Christmas travellers. At the other end of the spectrum, in October this year, the public were treated to an Indian summer with temperatures reaching as high as 30C, which for an October day was, if you'll excuse the cliché, the hottest since records began.

The new year provided one of the sporting highlights of the year, as the England cricket team returned home from Australia with the Ashes. The victorious English won the series 3-1, all three of their victories coming by a margin of an innings or more (a first between the two sides). A couple of months after the series, Australia's captain, Ricky Ponting, resigned.

The overthrowing of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia was the first comprehensive success of what became known as the Arab Spring. Compared with the uprisings in some other countries, the "Jasmine Revolution" was swift, coming just a month after protests began. The peoples of Egypt and Libya have both since overthrown their leaders, while unrest continues in a number of countries across the region.

On 11 March, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Tohoku in Japan – a tremor so large it knocked the Earth 10 inches off its axis – and tsunamis up to 14 metres high would go on to strike coastal Japan. At least 15,000 people are thought to have died, with many more still missing, and the resulting wave destroyed homes and businesses and caused one of the worst nuclear disasters in history when reactors at Fukushima nuclear power plant went into meltdown.

At a time when Britain was worried about "austerity measures", the Royal Family did their bit to boost the public mood by holding an extravagant wedding for Prince William and Kate Middleton in April in London. Almost 2,000 people attended the service including friends, family, foreign dignitaries and David and Victoria Beckham, while thousands more lined the streets to watch the wedding procession. The country was given a tourism boost as hotels across the capital were booked up, while we loyal subjects were rewarded with an extra bank holiday.

In the early hours of 2 May, Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of al-Qa'ida, was killed by US special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Called Operation Neptune Spear, the raid was carried out by an elite team of Navy Seal personnel known as Team Six, and the CIA. The operation was watched over by President Barack Obama and senior figures in his administration from the White House.

After the travel chaos caused by the Eyjafjallajokull eruption in 2010, the nation worried when fellow hard-to-pronounce Icelandic volcano Grimsvotn began erupting in May this year, sending a cloud of ash high above Europe. Despite airport closures in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and fears that aircraft wouldn't be able to fly, the disruption to travellers was far smaller than that of 2010.

The investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World has been one of the most enduring stories of the year. And it came into even greater focus with the revelation that private investigators working for the newspaper accessed voicemails of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler, after she went missing. The news prompted an emergency session in Parliament, and the announcement the same week that the 168-year-old paper was to close.

The threat posed by right-wing extremism was put into frightening clarity in July as Anders Behring Breivik carried out a terrorist attack in his native Norway. On 22 July, a car bomb went off outside the Prime Minister's office in Oslo, killing eight people. Two hours later, with the country still in shock, Breivik, dressed as a police officer, opened fire at visitors to Utoya island, which was hosting a summer camp of the youth movement of the local Labour party, killing 69 people.

As the hacking scandal rumbled on, Britain was gripped by another shock in August as riots broke out. Protests began around Tottenham, north London after police shot and killed 29-year-old Mark Duggan during a pre-planned arrest. The unrest escalated into a riot, which spread across London over the next two days and spread to other areas of England, with the cost of damage estimated at up to £200m. Both Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson were criticised for failing to return from their holidays quickly enough.

On 3 October, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito won their appeal against a life sentence for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. The original investigation and subsequent conviction of American student Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Sollecito were among the most widely publicised in recent history.

The Coalition Government might not be especially popular, but compared with previous administrations, it has been relatively free of sleaze and scandal – until now. This month, Defence Secretary Liam Fox came under scrutiny over his best man, Adam Werritty. Despite having no government or party role, Werritty travelled to meet Fox on foreign trips 18 times, all the while carrying a business card describing himself as an "adviser" to the minister. As more and more suggestions of impropriety surfaced, Fox resigned, saying that he had allowed "distinctions to be blurred between my professional responsibilities and my personal loyalties to a friend", and returned to the back benches.

After eight months of civil war, rebel troops, having been backed by Nato air strikes, declared victory for the National Transitional Council in Libya. The final moment was the capture of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. After months on the run, troops found him cowering in a storm drain in the city of Sirte. Footage showed he was caught alive, but he later died, having been shot twice.