23 FEBRUARY 2002, Page 6

I t emerged that a company controlled by Lakshmi Mittal, who

had given £125,000 to the Labour party, was given a £70 million loan by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, partly underwritten by Britain, in order to buy a Romanian state steelworks. Moreover, an American company owned by Mr Mittal had campaigned in the United States against the lowering of tariffs on British steel. At the Department of Transport both Miss Jo Moore, a political adviser, and Mr Martin Sixsmith, a civil servant, were forced to resign by concerted action by the department and by No. 10 Downing Street; the grounds were so fraught with uncertainty and ill-natured spin that it was impossible to tell who had done what wrong. The Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Stephen Byers, certainly did not resign. The National Air Traffic Services was bailed out of its financial crisis by agreement with banks and a credit arrangement with the government. Lord Hollick, a rich man with strong Labour connections, was appointed chairman of the South Bank arts complex. A gang was sentenced to between five and 15 years in jail for an attempted robbery of diamonds on show in the Millennium Dome; thanks to an informer, 140 armed police were waiting when the robbers broke in with a

JCB machine. Sir Walter Winterbottom, who managed the England football team from 1946 to 1962, died, aged 89. Miss Joan Collins married as her fifth husband, Mr Percy Gibson, who, at 36, is 32 years her junior. Five market traders lost their case in the High Court to sell bananas and other greengrocery in pounds and other imperial measures. The world's tallest man, at 7ft 9in, Mr Hussain Bisad, aged 27, a refugee from Somalia, was found to be living in Neasden in London, and was immediately put on television.

THE foreign ministers of the European Union brought in personal sanctions against President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and 19 of his associates after Mr Pierre Schori, the Swedish ambassador to the United Nations and the leader of the European observers for the Zimbabwe elections, to be held on 9 and 10 March, was obliged to leave the country, followed by the rest of the delegation; the sanctions prohibit travel to European Union countries and a freeze on any assets held there. A man's body was found in the French section of the Channel tunnel. Israeli forces killed 14 Palestinians in attacks on Gaza, Nablus and Ramallah in retaliation for the shooting dead of six Israeli soldiers. President George W. Bush of the United States, on a visit to Japan intended to help its economic reforms, gave the yen a shudder when he said that he had been discussing with Mr Junichiro Koizumi, the Prime Minister, 'the devaluation issue' instead of 'deflation' as he meant. Dr Abdul Rahman, the Afghan minister for tourism and aviation, was stabbed to death at Kabul airport; at first it was reported to be the act of impatient pilgrims who had waited two days for an aeroplane to take them on the haj to Mecca, but it emerged that the murderers were intelligence officials of the Jamiat-iIslami faction of the Northern Alliance. An Afghan civilian was shot dead in Kabul when British soldiers returned fire at night. In Nepal, Maoist insurgents killed 75 policemen, 49 soldiers, four civil servants and a photographer in raids last Saturday night, The Queen undertook a visit to Jamaica three days after the funeral of her sister, Princess Margaret. Hundreds of corpses were found in woodland and mass graves near the Tri-State crematorium in Noble, Georgia; relatives had been given urns of broken rubble instead of ashes. A detachment of Royal Marines on an exercise stormed ashore at what they thought was Gibraltar only to find it was Spain; two Spanish policemen showed them the way to their intended destination.