Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

Mr. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, allowed Mike Tyson into Britain to fight in Manchester, despite legislation that because of the boxer's conviction for rape - permits this only on 'strong compassionate' grounds. Offences rose by 2.2 per cent, with robberies up by 19 per cent. The Royal Ulster Constabulary is to lose the title 'Royal' among the changes to be adopted from the Patten Report. Mr Straw suggested that the reason he had ruled that General Augusto Pinochet was unfit to stand trial if he were extradited to Spain was that he could no longer 'give a coherent statement of his own case'; but he insisted, in the face of requests from the Spanish investigating judge Baltasar Garzon, that the doctors' report should remain confidential. Lord Winston, the eminent gynaecologist and Labour peer, said that the National Health Service was 'gradually deteriorating' and that there had been 'deceit' in government claims to have abolished the internal market; he later glossed his remarks after talks with Mr Alastair Campbell. National Health Service nurses' pay was increased above the rate of inflation, with 60,000 staff nurses getting a 7.8 per cent rise. Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham merged to form the world's biggest drug company; the two employ 107,000, of whom it is feared 15,000 will go. The sales of Boots the Chemist were up by 4.7 per cent for the last quarter of 1999, partly because of the flu outbreak. Yorkshire Electricity is to cut 350 of its 4,500 workforce on the grounds of price reductions ordered by the industry's regulator. British Gas is to abolish standing charges. Mr Ken Livingstone, who wants to be mayor of London, said, in answer to a question from the Face magazine about the riots in the City of London last summer, that he had 'always been in favour' of direct action. Mr James Boyle retired from the BBC after three years as controller of Radio Four. …

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