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USA UK and Malta News
20/03/2008 - 21:32

UK today Editoweb, 20 march 2008

Queen prepares Easter in Northern Ireland first - Bank Chief To Continue 'Close Dialogue' - Diana inquest costs £2.8m so far - Brown backs Ken as "only choice" for London - Russia announces spy arrests after BP raids: report.

Queen prepares Easter in Northern Ireland first
Queen Elizabeth II took part in a traditional pre-Easter ceremony Thursday, in a national service held in Northern Ireland for the first time. In the so-called Maundy service, an Easter ceremony dating back to the 12th century, the 81-year-old monarch handed out specially-minted coins worth the equivalent of her age to hand-picked subjects. For the first time in 700 years it was held outside England and Wales, in the Church of Ireland's Cathedral in Armagh, which is the ecclesiastic capital of Ireland.

Bank Chief To Continue 'Close Dialogue'
Mervyn King has agreed to continue "close dialogue" with high street banks in a bid to calm market volatility and ease the credit crunch. The Bank of England chief's announcement came after he met representatives of the UK banking industry. The banks demanded action to calm the markets and wanted assurances that the BoE will provide extra financial help should it be needed. "The Bank of England and the banks agreed to continue their close dialogue with the objective of restoring more orderly market conditions," the BoE said in a statement.

Diana inquest costs £2.8m so far
The cost of inquests into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed has hit £2.8 million. A total of £2,885,618 has been spent on the central London hearing from July 1 2007 to February 29 this year. Inquest officials said the figures were being published in "the interests of openness". They do not include the £187,464 incurred by the Coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker and the previous Coroner, Lady Butler-Sloss up to the 30 June 2007.

Brown backs Ken as "only choice" for London
Gordon Brown today stepped up his public backing for Ken Livingstone, describing him as the "only choice for London". The prime minister also appeared to take a swipe at Boris Johnson, saying the capital needed a mayor who was "serious about running London". Writing in the Evening Standard, Mr Brown urged Londoners to vote for a mayor that was "competent to get things done". He argued Mr Livingstone, who has been mayor since 2000, had already managed to "get so much done for Londoners", having dedicated his "professional and personal life" to the city.

Russia announces spy arrests after BP raids: report
Russia's secret service has charged two Russian-Americans with industrial espionage, the service was quoted as saying Thursday, a day after raids on the offices of British oil major BP in Moscow. The two men "were illegally collecting secret commercial information for a number of foreign oil and gas companies with the aim of gaining concrete advantages against Russian competitors," said a statement from the FSB secret service, Russian news agencies reported.

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