Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

The government tried to distance itself from two controversial recommendations of the report by Sir William Macpherson into the murder of Stephen Lawrence: the possibility of retrial for anyone acquitted of a crime, and the criminalisation of racist remarks made in private. Meanwhile the names of two dozen people who had helped the police confidentially with their inquiries into the murder were sent out with copies of the report. The mistake was discovered only after 1,000 copies had been distributed (to, among others, the five original suspects of the murder) and the thing was on the Internet. Sir William acknowledged he was to blame; Mr Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, went abroad for the weekend. A memorial plaque at the site of the murder was daubed with white paint in view of a police security camera, but it had not been fitted with film. Mr Michael Heseltine had talks with Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, about a united front to secure British membership of European economic and monetary union. Mr William Hague said anyone who backed pro-Emu candidates in the European Parliament elections in June would be expelled from the Conservative party. Lord Owen, Lord Healey and Lord Prior joined forces to save the pound. Britain joined the United States in an ultimatum to Libya to hand over for trial by the end of March two people suspected of the bombing of the aeroplane that was destroyed over Lockerbie in 1988; a spokesman for the British families of the dead said the move would be counter-productive. Both the Prince of Wales and Mr Alun Michael, the Secretary of State for Wales, ate beef on the bone, the provision of which is still illegal. The Queen went to see Oklahoma!, which she first saw in 1947. The government welcomed a project by Thames Water to extract 15 million gallons of groundwater a day from below London, where the water table is rising and deep Underground stations are being flooded. …

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