A fake cigarette led to a large-scale security alert on the M6 Toll road on Thursday. Armed officers surrounded a Megabus coach and evacuated 48 passengers after police received reports that vapour had been released from a bag. The Toll road was closed for four hours before the authorities ruled out criminal activity. A spokesperson for the police force later stated that, 'We can now confirm that, whilst this was a genuine security alert, the significant concerns reported to us were unfounded. It's important to state that no criminal offence has been committed and no passenger or any other member of the public is being treated as a suspect. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience and hope that the public understand that we have our duty to safeguard public safety.'
The chief executive of Barclays Bob Diamond resigned on Tuesday after the bank was fined for lending rate manipulation last week. In a statement, Diamond said, 'No decision over that period was as hard as the one that I make now to stand down as chief executive. The external pressure placed on Barclays has reached a level that risks damaging the franchise – I cannot let that happen.' He added, 'I look forward to fulfilling my obligation to contribute to the Treasury Committee's enquiries related to the settlements that Barclays announced last week without my leadership in question.' Barclays was fined £290 million last week after attempts were made to manipulate Libor interest rates that influence loan and mortgage costs.
A particle resembling the Higgs boson has been identified by researchers at CERN, it was announced on Wednesday. A statement on the CERN website said, 'The ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN today presented their latest results in the search for the long-sought Higgs boson. Both experiments see strong indications for the presence of a new particle, which could be the Higgs boson, in the mass region around 126 gigaelectronvolts (GeV).' Reacting to the news, the Director General of CERN Rolf Heuer said, 'The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle’s properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.'
Plans to reduce the size of the British Army were announced by the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on Thursday. The announced changes will see the number of regular soldiers reduced by 20,000 by 2020, resulting in the loss of 17 major units. Addressing the House of Commons, Hammond said, 'After inheriting a massive overspend from the last government, we have had to make tough decisions to implement our vision of a formidable, adaptable and flexible armed forces.' He added that, 'After a decade of enduring operations, we need to transform the Army and build a balanced, capable and adaptable force ready to face the future. Army 2020 will create a more flexible and agile Army. Unlike the past, it will be set on a firm foundation of men and material, well trained, well equipped and fully funded.'
A conference on Afghanistan has decided to give the country $16 billion (£10.3 billion) in aid over a period of four years, it was announced on Sunday. The conference, which took place in Tokyo, Japan, agreed to the donations after Afghanistan accepted new measures to combat corruption. Speaking at the conference, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, 'It will take many years of hard work on our part as Afghans, as well as continued empowering support from our international partners before Afghanistan can achieve prosperity and self-reliance. We must do what we can to deepen the roots of security and make the transition irreversible.' Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General later said, 'Failure to invest in governance, justice, human rights, employment and social development could negate investment and sacrifices that have been made over the last ten years.'
The comedian, actor and writer Eric Sykes died at the age of 89 this week. Sykes was the star of television programmes including Dress Rehearsal from 1956. He also appeared in plays by Moliere and Alan Bennett amongst others. Reacting to the news, Sir Bruce Forsyth described Sykes as 'one of the greats of comedy in this country,' while Stephen Fry tweeted, 'Oh no! Eric Sykes gone? An adorable, brilliant, modest, hilarious, innovative and irreplaceable comic master. Farewell, dear, dear man.' Sykes is survived by his wife Edith and four children.
The Wimbledon finals took place this week. Serena Williams, aged 30, won the Women's Singles against Agnieszka Radwanska on Saturday. Williams went on to win the Women's Doubles with sister Venus, while British player Jonathan Marray won the Men's Doubles with team-mate Dane Nielson. The following day, Andy Murray, aged 25, lost out to 30-year-old Roger Federer in the Men's Singles final. Speaking after the final, Murray congratulated his opponent and thanked family, friends and fans for their support. After receiving his seventh Wimbledon trophy, Federer described the win as 'a great moment.'
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham David Eastwood
will become the new chair of the Russell Group in September, it was announced this week. In a statement, Eastwood said, 'I am honoured to have been chosen to chair the Russell Group at this exciting and challenging time for higher education – and research-intensive universities in particular,' adding that 'the UK boasts world-class universities in terms of reputation, quality, and impact. They play a key role in educating both undergraduate and postgraduate students, carrying out ground-breaking research and developing innovative products and spin-out companies. In my term as Russell Group chair I am determined to help ensure that they are able to continue to succeed on a global stage.’