Labour leader Ed Miliband is interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on the Sky News/Channel 4 programme: Cameron & Miliband Live: The Battle for Number 10. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Labour leader rejects claims he is not tough enough to be British prime minister

 Prince Charles  during a reception at Clarence House in London yesterday. Photograph:  Yui Mok/PA

‘Black spider’ correspondence will give brief insight into relations with ministers

UK prime minister David Cameron said he would see “what more we can do to be transparent”. Photograph: PA Wire

NI Office clarifies comments by David Cameron where he said he would try to be transparent

Clarkson’s fate was sealed, according to BBC sources, after the corporation’s head of television, Danny Cohen, finally lost patience with the presenter following a series of controversies. Photograph: EPA

BBC director general says presenter ‘crossed line’ in unprovoked attack on Irish producer

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond said it is now “almost impossible” to hold elections before a five-year term is up. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Flaw in legislation would favour administration that had lost the confidence of MPs

Screen grab taken from topgear.com of Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon. Photograph: PA

Oisin Tymon has faced a deluge of offensive attacks on Twitter

British prime minister David Cameron speaking to members of Age UK in London yesterday. Looking flustered on stage, the prime minister said: “I’ll be frank: if you are not satisfied with how elderly people are being looked after and valued by this government, don’t blame other ministers, blame me.” Photograph: Dan Kitwood/PA Wire

Analysis: Few in Westminster believed British PM would want to go on even until 2020

Alleged IRA Hyde Park bomber John Downey, whose 2013 prosecution collapsed over the ‘no trial’ guarantee in a letter. The letter was central in the House of Common inquiry. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Commons MPs say former PM Tony Blair bowed to SF pressure over ‘comfort letters’

Gerry Kelly MLA North Belfast: Northern Ireland Affairs Committee “comprised politicians all of whom oppose Sinn Féin”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

MLA for North Belfast says NI investigating committee’s report ‘politically driven’ attack

Tony Blair and Peter Hain (centre) seen with Martin McGuinness,  Bertie Ahern and Ian Paisley at Stormont on May 8th, 2007. Hain has been  accused of giving a “less than helpful” testimony to a House of Commons inquiry into the operation of the On The Runs to 200 Republicans. Photograph: Paul Faith/Reuters.

Former NI Secretary ‘very knowledgeable’ about scheme but gave ‘less than helpful’ testimony

The year-long inquiry was prompted by the collapse in the prosecution of John Downey for the 1982 Hyde Park bombing. Downey was one of the recipients of the ‘on the run’ letters. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

Collapse of Downey case prompted inquiry into UK Government letters to Republicans

Labour leader Ed Miliband has accused the Scottish National Party of being in “an unholy alliance”. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Voters urged to put aside thoughts of Scottish independence as poll shows Labour far behind SNP

British prime minster David Cameron speaking to BBC News 24’s chief political correspondent James Landale about the prospect of whether he would run for a third term if he remained prime minister after the election. Photograph: BBC News 24/PA Wire

Tories would need fresh eyes, fresh leadership by end of next parliament, says PM

James Brohan’s painting of poet Seamus Heaney is one of the highlights of the collection, and is currently on display at Barbara Stanley’s gallery in Mayfair

Michael Flatley and others have made donations in effort to raise €830,000

Portable politician: Armagh-born Conor McGinn at Windle Labour Club, in St Helens

Conor McGinn, the son of a former Sinn Féin councillor, is a Labour Party candidate for a safe seat in May’s UK general election. (...)

The land of Du Noyer: Martha Kearney at Dunluce Castle, in Antrim. Photograph: BBC Northern Ireland

The BBC presenter, who was one of a few London-based journalists who covered the Troubles in the 1980s, is following in the steps (...)

Janice Atkinson. Ukip has removed the whip from the MEP and axed her as a general election candidate “following allegations of a serious financial nature”, the party said. Photograph: PA

Janice Atkinson suspended by party immediately

The chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander speaking in the Commons yesterday. Photograph: PA Wire

New plans seen as reply to disclosures that HSBC conspired with wealthy individuals to evade billions in taxes

A lorry displaying a Conservative party poster which pictures Labour Party leader Ed Miliband in the pocket of former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond. Photograph: AFP Photo/Justin Tallis

Unlikely pre-election alliance between Conservatives and SNP aims to destroy Labour

(Left) Kerry-born Arthur Spring (56)  was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for 10 years. Edward Corr (52), originally from Co Donegal,  was given three years and nine months in jail.

Court told millions siphoned from business and laundered through other bank accounts

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has tax avoidance as a policy priority. Photograph: Bloomberg.

Corporation tax battle set to flare after European Commission targets avoidance

 British chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne holds up his pre-election budget outside no 11 Downing Street. Photograph: EPA/Andy Rain

Chancellor’s autumn statement is all about ‘the future’ rather than debt

 UK chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne holds the dispatch box containing the 2015 budget outside 11 Downing Street in London yesterday. He has proposed a 25 per cent  tax to tackle brass-plate operations that “lack economic substance”, with the aim of raising £25 million (€34.47 million) in its first year. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

New penalty tax on artificial shifting of profits abroad to become law this month

Art gallery owner Helly Nahmad, who owns a £2 billion modern and impressionist collection, including Picassos

The 65,000sq ft offices were completed in February, with each floor let individually

First minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. “I have said repeatedly that a formal coalition between Labour and the SNP was highly unlikely, [and] would not be my preference.” Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Labour leader Ed Miliband has ruled out coalition deal with SNP

Muhammad Al-Hussaini: “When I sing sean nós I feel I am reciting sacred verses in Irish. It really feels like that. In our hearts, we are all Irish.”

Liberal academic Muhammad Al-Hussaini sees the arts as an antidote to extremism

Nick Clegg,  leader of the Liberal Democrats,  and his wife, Miriam González Durántez,  arrive for the party conference  in Liverpool on March 15th. Photograph: EPA/Peter Powell

As the British public begin to engage with the election, the minority party in government gears up for a do-or-die campaign

First Minister Peter Robinson described the sale of the loans to Cerberus last year as “excellent news”. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Concern over Cerberus Capital Management, which paid in region of €1.3bn for portfolio

Sligo-born man Philip Steels, who was killed in London last September in an attack on a street. Photograph: Metropolitan Police.

Malachi Lindo battered face of Phillip Steels (51) with a brick during incident in Enfield

This week, the latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland statistics  were published in Edinburgh. They show that Scotland was £12.4 billion (€17.4 billion) in the red last year. Photograph: PA

SNP wants full fiscal freedom, but its budget arithmetic doesn’t add up

Labour leader Ed Miliband has consistently refused demands from within his own ranks to match the Conservatives’ pledge to hold a referendum on EU membership. Photograph: Robert Perry/EPA

Intervention poses significant headache for Miliband

British home secretary Theresa May said allegations of child abuse at the Kincora boys’ home in Belfast in the 1970s will not be investigated by a major British inquiry. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

Inquiry confined to England and Wales but will liaise with Hart Inquiry

The House of Commons has heard that the number of flights linking smaller British airports to international flights from Heathrow has ‘steadily declined over the last decade’ because of a shortage of landing slots at the London airport. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

House of Commons group says space shortage at London airport costing regional hubs

Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to take part in a head-to-head debate with Labour leader Ed Miliband. Photograph: PA Wire

Insults traded between prime minister and Labour leader in row over TV debates

American-born directors rank third in the list, with just over 19,000 sitting on British boards, while the French have 15,602 and and the Italians have 15,432

Irish comprise one-in-six of foreign nationals on British boards, up 6% on previous year

As England is set to introduce standardised cigarette packaging, Imperial Tobacco has warned the British government that it will sue to protect its intellectual property rights.  Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Third country to implement change after Australia and Ireland

Sahima Begum (sister of Shamima Begum) and Abase Hussen (father of Amira Abase ) leave the Houses of Parliament in London, after giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee after three schoolgirls are feared to have joined Islamic State in war-torn Syria. Photograph: PA Wire

Families of teenagers who went to Syria to join IS are critical of police

Top talk: Ed Miliband (right) is congratulated by Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy following his speech at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Edinburgh. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

May election a likely Labour bloodbath, but pact with rivals could split party

Labour leader Ed Miliband. ‘Every one less Labour MP makes it more likely the Tories will be the largest party.’ Photograph:  Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Labour Party leader in battle for seats Scottish National Party

Passengers arrive at Gatwick Airport. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Figures show that 550,000 more foreigners are living in England than four years ago

WB Yeats in Walter de la Mare’s garden at Taplow in 1935. Passengers on London’s Underground system have been able to read the works of a half-dozen Irish poets, led by WB Yeats, as they make their way to and from work

Literary works being showcased on system to celebrate WB Yeats’s 150th anniversary

Potential partners: Peter Robinson with David Cameron in the Downing Street garden (bottom right) and with Ed Miliband in Belfast (bottom left); David Cameron formed his current coalition with Nick Clegg (top left); Robinson will be under pressure to deliver short-term gains to party colleagues frightened of Traditional Unionist Voice, the party of Jim Allister (top right). Photographs: Will Oliver/AFP/Getty, Charles McQuillan/Getty, Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty and Paul Faith/PA Wire

Peter Robinson and the Democratic Unionist Party are being wooed by David Cameron’s Conseratives and Ed Miliband’s Labour Party ah(...)

Harlow has become the first town in Britain to officially ban Travellers. The council obtained a temporary court injunction that protects nearly 500 plots of land. Photograph: Eastnews Press Agency

Essex authorities say families had set up more than 100 illegal sites around town

Irishman Christopher John Barry, known as Jack, died after he was stabbed in the back as he and his partner tried to get into their flat block in Edmonton. Mr Barry exchanged words with a gang of youths after they tried to get into the complex to go a party at another flat.

Teen pleads guilty to stabbing 53-year-old Christopher John Barry last December

No agency  – even GCHQ, which has a large estate – has nurseries in their offices. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

MI5 is using gender-attraction strategies to boost female recruitment

 Former conservative MP Harvey Proctor arriving at the High Court in London. Proctor has denied bring part of a “rent-boy ring” or attending sex parties with other prominent figures after his home was searched by police. Photograph: Louis Hollingsbee/PA Wire

Claims of paedophile ring that operated at the highest level of British society

A still image taken from CCTV of a suspect in alleged sexual abuse last year of a boy aged six in London. The man spoke with an Irish accent, London police said.

Alleged attacker is aged 55 to 65 with large stomach and dark chin-length hair

The Birmingham Six with MP Chris Mullin (centre) outside the Old Bailey in London following their release: (from left) Mr John Walker, Mr Paddy Hill, Mr Hugh Callaghan, Mr Richard McIIkenny, Mr Gerry Hunter and Mr William Power. Photograph: Joe St Leger

Inquest did not reopen after Birmingham Six were released by the Court of Appeal

 Egerton Crescent in   Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; named by Lloyds Bank as Britain’s most expensive road to live in, with average property prices around £5 million. Photograph:  Dan Kitwood/Getty

Body blames lax UK rules on billions in illegally gained wealth moving into high-end properties

Belfast developer Paddy McKillen: an Abu Dhabi fund has indicated it would be willing to settle for a majority stake in the Maybourne hotel group, with Mr McKillen holding a minority interest – an acceptance the Irishman is not prepared to leave the scene. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Developer ‘has no intention of selling his shareholding in Maybourne’

Former boxing promoter Kellie Maloney giving an emotional speech during the Ukip Spring Conference at the Winter Gardens in Margate, Kent. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Transsexual and former boxing promoter says Ukip is open to all

Ukip’s leader, Nigel Farage, during the party’s conference at the Winter Gardens in Margate, Kent.  Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

Nearly 1,000 Ukip members gathered at seaside town to ‘believe in Britain’

Clostridium difficile is still the most common use for faecal transplant: it hits hundreds of thousands of people annually, causing serious diarrhoea and often death. Photogarph: The Irish Times

Innovative procedure tackles most common gut bug infection – Clostridium Difficile

Jimmy Savile celebrity awed some, while his bullying, dominant personality frightened others. His fund-raising skills were seen as useful by Margaret Thatcher’s government, particularly, who “feted” Savile. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis: Savile’s ability to abuse depended on influence, power and the right to be left unchallenged

Jimmy Savile, whose passing was initially mourned in 2011 before his crimes emerged into public view, raped or abused sixty-four victims — aged between eight and 40 — in just one hospital alone, Stoke Mandeville; though his oldest victim was 75. Photograph: PA Wire

Savile’s older brother, who died in 1998, also alleged to have assaulted five patients

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan: “Our economy is growing; our public finances are under control. Jobs are being created.” Photograph: The Irish Times

Minister indicates possible Coalition losses of 16 FG seats, with Labour partner losing 18

The head of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, Lin Homer,  giving evidence at a treasury committee hearing in Westminster yesterday. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Head of UK tax authority defends organisation in face of MPs’ complaints

The scene in Glasgow’s George Square after  a bin lorry crashed into a group of pedestrians and  left six people dead. Photo: PA

58-year-old Harry Clarke says every day is now ‘a struggle’ after six people died in incident

Speaking in London, Michael Noonan said the offer from IAG for Aer Lingus would “be looked on favourably” if it brings benefits, but he emphasised that an island nation’s air routes are strategically vital. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

Minister says decision on airline bid will be taken on commercial, not political grounds

 Former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind besieged by the media yesterday. The Conservative MP resigned his role as chairman of the ISC and is to resign from Parliament as a result of a cash for access lobbying scandal.

Prime minister, in pre-election mode, says he respects and supports decision

Former British foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind has been caught in a  sting apparently offering their services to a private lobbying firm for payment. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Former British foreign secretary filmed discussing payment for influence

The headquarters of HSBC  in Canary Wharf, London. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Deal with France to allow UK use leaked HSBC files to pursue financial advisers

Famine statue in Dublin: a debate hosted by the London Irish Comedy Festival about comedy and censorship was dominated by ‘Hungry’, a not-yet written commission for Channel 4 about the Famine. Photograph: Kate Geraghty

London Irish Comedy Festival discussion focuses on planned C4 ‘Hungry’ script

A Traveller bride featured in Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Photograph: Kieran Clancy

Group complained programme portrayed them in ‘racially stereotypical way’

In 2013, 6,233 people took their own lives,  Office for National Statistics records show

Suicide remains leading cause of death for men aged between 20 and 32

The logo of HSBC bank. The Daily Telegraph’s departing political commentator, Peter Oborne complained this week that it had failed to cover tax evasion allegations against the bank for fear it would lose the institution’s advertising. Photograph: Pierre Albouy/Reuters

Departing commentator said publicly what many journalists have said privately

The DUP will seek a judicial review of a decision by the BBC to exclude it from a party leaders’ debate ahead of the general election. The DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said the broadcaster’s decision was “unlawful and irrational”. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Robinson says fact voters outside NI cannot vote for party doesn’t render its views irrelevant

David Cameron: despite all  the British rhetoric, it has just three soldiers in Iraq’s Kurdish regions and just eight RAF Tornados deployed against Islamic State – only two of which are able to fly at any one time. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

Analysis: Since slapdown on Syria, the prime minister has gone quiet on world affairs

NHS Dumfries and Galloway has been advised to treat e-cigarettes  “like any other nicotine product”. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Move criticised by anti-smoking campaign group Ash Scotland

In a bid to fight off plain packaging, tobacco companies have voiced support for health warnings to cover nearly the entire packet

Sales rise attributed to ‘silver slide’ pack, fuelling argument around plain packaging

Liberal Democrat justice minister, Simon Hughes: “Unambiguous and conclusive DNA tests will prove parentage and help to end acrimonious and embarrassing court battles.” Photograph: Cate Gillon/Getty

Move aims to mitigate acrimonious divorce cases where parenthood is disputed

Labour leader Ed Miliband during a speech at Jaguar Land Rover, Wolverhampton, on Monday, where he sought to lay out Labour’s industrial strategy in advance of the general election in May. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Ed Miliband makes right noises in car factory visit but his campaign remains stalled

According to the UK office of national statistics 27 per cent of all 16- to 24-year-olds across Britain are non-drinkers, a rise from 19 per cent in 2005. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Rise in size of Muslim population partly explains increase in sobriety

Admission by hedge fund boss seen by Labour as major victory for party

British deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg: faces difficulties on every front. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

London Letter: British deputy PM lags constituency rival as party faces seat losses

The risk of cancer falls after women stop hormone replacement therapy

Benefits of hormone replacement therapy outweigh risks, says Irish Medicines Board

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said some of the powers that had been devolved to Scotland were about it ‘feeling independent’. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

NI First Minister will reject attempts to deprive North of secretary of state at Cabinet in London

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon leaving University College London on Wednesday, She has said in a speech that the UK’s austerity economics were morally unjustifiable and economically unsustainable. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

SNP leader tells London gathering social justice is the way forward

Athenians wave Greek flags during a protest rally outside the Greek parliament building in Syntagma square, central Athens. Photograph: Simela Pantzartzi/EPA

Senator David Cullinane says party wants to lead anti-austerity government in south

Lord Stephen Green: Conservatives were condemned by Labour for not investigating the former HSBC chief executive before appointing him as a trade minister. Photograph: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

UK tax authorities chose settlement over prosecution as ‘most efficient’ way

Key role: Anne Morrison with host Stephen Fry and actor Sam Claflin at last year’s Baftas. Photograph: Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty

The British Academy Film Awards are on Sunday. But there’s more to Bafta than prizes, says the chair of the academy, Belfast woman(...)

British Labour MP Tristram Hunt: ‘I obviously meant no offence to nuns.’ Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Tristram Hunt differentiated between ‘qualified teachers’ and teaching by nuns

Public Health England has urged British supermarkets to shift daffodils away from fruit and vegetable stands after dealing with 27 suspected poisonings linked to daffodils in the last year. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Bulbs mistaken for onions and leaves for Chinese vegetables, warns health body

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, on his first official visit to Scotland, with   Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon during  talks in  Edinburgh on Thursday. Photograph:  Grace Avery

Links to be harnessed to increase trade, tourism and EU co-operation, says Flanagan

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the House of Commons public accounts committee. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Accounting firm’s denials ‘misleading’, says public accounts committee

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC drama series ‘Wolf Hall’. Photograph: Giles Keyte

Bishops object to TV drama’s take on More as a fanatical Protestant burner of heretics

Irish architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey at home in Rathmines. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey have been added to distinguished list of winners

IAG has been discussing its proposal to pay €1.36 billion for Aer Lingus. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Takeover panel rules apply only to the companies involved in the proposed deal

David Cameron: “I know what parents go through when they are concerned about these issues”

MPs back efforts to cut number of serious inherited diseases

  Chancellor George Osborne  is understood to have told Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis that London  will not be sympathetic to Athens’s debt demands. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Greece accepts it has ‘obligations’ to European partners and its creditors

Michael McDowell, Cllr Jim O’Callaghan, Sen Katherine Zappone and Lucinda Creighton TD at a Seanad reform debate at the Royal Irish Academy in 2014. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Irish in Britain organisation wants emigrants to be allowed to vote in Seanad elections

A 16,000-ton Royal Navy Trident-class nuclear submarine: besides scrapping the Trident plan, the SNP wants tax powers devolved  and a reversal of spending cuts. Photograph: PA/PA Wire

Scale of SNP’s demands make any form of post-election deal with Labour unlikely

‘The image is a rare example where the interests of the Conservatives and the SNP collide, since both want to emphasise Labour’s weaknesses.’ Above, detail from a new Conservative Party political poster showing Labour leader Ed Miliband, and Scotland’s former First Minister Alex Salmond of the SNP. Photograph: Conservative Party/PA

‘The SNP will fight the coming election with some clear themes: Scots were robbed, Labour is dying and only they can deliver for (...)

High-risk districts have certain characteristics in common: A high density of people from the same family or ethnicity living close together. Photograph:  Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Troubling allegations of postal-vote cheating persist in key battleground constituencies

“I think this referendum is a great threat to the political stability of the country,” says Kenneth Clarke

Referendum unavoidable if Tories govern after May, says ex-chancellor

A new Conservative Party  poster showing Labour leader Ed Miliband, Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond of the SNP and  Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams which claims together they will bring chaos to Britain. Image: Conservative Party/PA Wire.

Labour distances itself from claim it asked Sinn Féin to prop up minority government

Labour’s Northern Ireland spokesman, Ivan Lewis: until now, Labour has been less than enthusiastic about the new powers, consistently raising questions about Northern Ireland’s ability to replace the lost tax income

Labour’s Ivan Lewis pledged the party’s support subject to ‘acceptable level of scrutiny’

Starting periods earlier is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer later in life, according to the report in the journal Human Reproduction.

Study finds girls who frequently consume sugary drinks have first period months earlier

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron: “I am delighted the broadcasters have gone away and thought again . . . although I don’t quite see why Northern Ireland seems to be missing out.” Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Mention of Northern Ireland parties seen as tactic to keep broadcasters on defensive

British energy minister Matthew Hancock. The legislation before the Commons seeks to maximise ‘the economic recovery’ of the UK’s energy resources, including shale gas. Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Fracking incompatible with climate targets, says environmental audit committee

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