Ian Strachan, 30, and Sean McGuigan, 40, were charged with demanding £50,000 "with menaces" between January and September this year.The pair are alleged to have contacted a member of the royal staff and demanded the money, threatening to go public with video recordings involving sex and drugs if their demand was not met.

Apart from careless talk about not actually liking Strictly Come Dancing, the Brown coup de théâtre proved a modest success.No, the real purpose of the exercise was to display Messers Brown and Darling in the same room at the same time.

At 5pm today the Queen will overtake her great-great-grandmother Victoria as the longest-living British monarch, prompting some to say that she should now retire.Her record will be passed by Queen Elizabeth at around 5pm today.

For the 13th year running, Jack was the most popular name given to boys born in England and Wales this year.Grace was the most popular girls' name after joining the top five last year.

A senior customs investigator could face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act over suspicions that he exposed how US and British intelligence agencies interfered in his attempts to halt an international nuclear smuggling ring.The investigation is the subject of a book recently published in the US, America and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise.

Motorists who use mobile phones or smoke while at the wheel could face up to two years in jail under new guidelines to be published today.Drivers in England and Wales who cause death on the roads could also be jailed for life under new measures drafted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Steve Webb, who has been appointed spokesman for the environment, energy, food and rural affairs, is a former academic and avid social networker who stepped back for Nick Clegg in the leadership race, though the left-leaning Northavon MP was not a lead candidate for the job.Today Clegg has rewarded him with his rival Chris Huhne's old job as environment spokesman.

A British man who has spent 20 years on death row in the US is to be released on Thursday and will be home for Christmas, his attorney said yesterday.Under a plea bargain reached with prosecutors, Richey would be released and plans to return to his native Scotland on Friday, his attorney said.

Rawi, who was also held in Guantánamo, was let out in March, having also been held for four years without charge.In a statement issued by his lawyer in May, Banna said: "The British government has let me stay here for four and a half years.

Nick Clegg, who just under two years ago described himself as too much of a "rookie MP" to challenge for his party's leadership, has included a crop of the Liberal Democrats' newest and youngest MPs in his frontbench team.Williams, meanwhile, has the unusual distinction of being the only openly gay MP in a party that prides itself on its civil liberties record.

Legal sources in Dublin have questioned whether the Irish state can ever resurrect a case against Colm Murphy.The next person arrested was Murphy's nephew, Sean Gerard Hoey, an electrician from Jonesborough, a border village in south Armagh.

Scores achieved in the "abstract reasoning" exam, worth a quarter of the marks in the UK Clinical Aptitude test (UKCAT), have been ditched after problems were identified by exams company Pearson Vue.The UKCAT was introduced by a coalition of 26 medical and dental schools two years ago to help them discriminate between the thousands of straight-A applications they receive.

Sarah Teather, the Lib Dems' new business spokeswoman, became one of the party's most well-known figures after she snatched the seat of Brent East from Labour in hard-fought 2003 byelection.She spent much of her time as a new MP in the constituency, enthusiastically taking up Gujarati and Urdu lessons.

Today Nick Clegg appointed him the party's health spokesman.After the last general election he was appointed to the "shadow cabinet", as the Lib Dems call it, in 2005 as the party's trade and industry spokesman, and led a popular doorstep campaign to save local post offices.

Media companies are having a bad time in the City.In an admittedly volatile situation, the media sector is performing far worse than the rest of the market.

The Yeovil MP, who stays in post as the Lib Dems' children, schools and families spokesman, joined the Liberal Democrats in 1984, the same year he won a national schools debating competition.He graduated from Cambridge with a double first in economics, and became a managing director at Barclays Bank.

The new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, is expected to unveil his frontbench team on his second day in office, with his defeated rival Chris Huhne tipped for a top job.Vince Cable, the deputy leader and Treasury spokesman who held the party fort to wide acclaim over the past two months, is expected to keep his dual posts.

A lawyer by background, Hughes has held the seat of Southwark and Bermondsey for the past 24 years, as well as a number of shadow posts over that period.He was made president of the party in 2004, a few months after his unsuccessful bid to oust Ken Livingstone as London mayor, and has retained that position under the new leader, Nick Clegg, along with that of shadow leader of the House of Commons.
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