Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week

14 April 2017

11:00 PM

14 April 2017

11:00 PM

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Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, having cancelled a trip to Moscow over the Syrian poison gas incident, consulted other foreign ministers at the G7 summit at Lucca in Italy about how to get President Vladimir Putin of Russia to abandon his support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The Scottish Medicines Consortium accepted for routine use by NHS Scotland a drug called Prep which, at a cost of more than £400 a month, can protect people at risk of contracting the HIV virus through unprotected sexual activity. In England, 57 general practitioners’ surgeries closed in 2016, Pulse magazine found, with another 34 shutting because of mergers, forcing 265,000 patients to move. Eric Monkman, a fiercely keen Canadian, could not prevent Wolfson College, Cambridge, being defeated by Balliol in University Challenge.

The RMT union went on strike on Grand National day on Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Southern services. It was announced that Charles Horton, the chief executive of Southern’s parent firm Govia Thameslink, was paid £495,000 last year. A recording from 2008 was unearthed by the BBC that suggested that the Bank of England had been active in lowering the Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate); a senior Barclays manager was heard saying: ‘We’ve had some very serious pressure from the UK government and the Bank of England about pushing our Libors lower.’ Brian Matthew, who presented Saturday Club and Easy Beat on the BBC Light Programme before the advent of Radio 1 in 1967, died aged 88. Tim Pigott-Smith, the actor, died aged 70. Jeremy Lewis, the publisher and memoirist, died aged 75.


Wonga, the payday loan company, suffered a data breach which might have affected up to 245,000 customers, with names, addresses, phone numbers and bank account numbers being stolen. The Jaeger clothes chain appointed administrators after failing to find a suitable buyer. Poultry in England was allowed out of doors from Maundy Thursday after being kept in by law since December to avoid a strain of bird flu.

Abroad

After America fired 59 cruise missiles at the Shayrat airbase in Syria, on the orders of President Donald Trump, following the suspected sarin gas attack last week, at the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun near Idlib, which killed 87, the world wondered what the settled policy of the United States would be. ‘Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,’ Mr Trump had said of the poison gas incident. ‘No child of God should ever suffer such horror.’ Syria denied it had ever used any toxic substance, and Russia said that a Syrian air-strike had hit rebel chemical warfare munitions. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of Britain’s Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Regiment, said Russia’s assertion was ‘pretty fanciful’. America gave notice of its raid and four people were reportedly killed in it. A statement carried on the military media arm of the terrorist organisation Hezbollah, purporting to be on behalf of Russia and Iran, said: ‘What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor.’ North Korea said it would defend itself as America sent an aircraft carrier and supporting warships to seas off the Korean peninsula.

In Egypt, two bombers acting for the Islamic State killed 45 Coptic worshippers: 17 in Alexandria when a bomber blew himself up after being stopped by police at the gates of St Mark’s Cathedral, where Pope Tawadros II was celebrating a Palm Sunday liturgy; 28 in Tanta, where a bomber got inside St George’s Church. Pope Francis is due
to visit Egypt on April 28.

A lorry was driven at pedestrians in Drottninggatan (Queen Street) in Stockholm and then crashed into the front of a department store. Four people were killed. A device that did not explode was found in the driver’s cab. Swedish police arrested a 39-year-old man from Uzbekistan, whose application to reside in Sweden had been refused. The Basque nationalist terrorists Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Eta), which had killed more than 800 people, began handing over weapons. A camp of 1,500 migrants near Dunkirk was destroyed by fire after a fight between Afghans and Kurds. A man was violently dragged, bloody-faced, from a United Airlines flight before it took off from Chicago after the company booked too many people on to it. A hacker was blamed for setting off 156 warning sirens in Dallas, Texas, at 18 minutes to midnight on Friday 7 April, lasting for an hour and a half.

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