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29 July

In the headlines

The verdict in the Wagatha Christie trial is in: Rebekah Vardy lost her libel case against Coleen Rooney, who had accused Vardy of leaking stories about her to the press. The High Court ruling ends a three-year legal drama that has reportedly cost both women around £1m each. Energy firms are racking up “sickening profits” as millions struggle with their bills, says the Daily Star. Shell made a record £9.5bn between April and June, while Centrica, owner of British Gas, took in £1.3bn in the first half of the year. “Money-grabbing scumbags.” An estimated one billion people tuned in to the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last night, says the BBC. The spectacle at Alexander Stadium included music from the city’s own Duran Duran, and a 10m-tall animatronic bull celebrating Birmingham’s industrial heritage.

Behind the headlines

Why Liz Truss is winning

“Call her crackers all you like,” says Iain Martin in The Times, but Liz Truss is winning the race to be Conservative leader, “and giving her party’s establishment a good thrashing in the process”. She has run an audacious campaign. Despite having faithfully served three successive Tory prime ministers in Cabinet, Truss has managed to present herself as “some kind of restless insurgent taking on a failed system”. Though she backed Remain, and Rishi Sunak backed Brexit, Truss is the one who has learnt the lessons of Vote Leave: she has successfully cast her opponent as “the complacent advocate of an elite economic orthodoxy”.

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Tomorrow’s world

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Neom project – a brand new $500bn city in the desert – has taken fractionally firmer form, says Metro, after the Gulf state’s press agency released new images fleshing out the plans. It’s already proved highly controversial. For one thing, the desert where the city is due to be built is home to local tribes who have been “forcibly relocated”. And the work itself has been mired in “delays and massive overspending”, with employees leaving in droves. Critics have called the city “dystopian”, with one tweeting: “Neom will make for a nice post-apocalyptic ruin.”


A wildfire blazing its way across former World War One battlefields in Slovenia is running into “century-old, unexploded ordnance” with incendiary results, says Vice. According to the Slovenian press, so many hidden bombs have gone off that officials are now only counting the ones that explode near roads.

Inside politics

My role at No 10 “sounds fancy”, says Boris Johnson’s former deputy chief of staff, Cleo Watson, in Tatler. But “I was much closer to being Boris’s nanny”. When I regularly took his temperature at the beginning of the pandemic, I’d brandish a thermometer and declare: “It’s that time again, Prime Minister!” Never willing to miss a good slapstick opportunity, he always “dutifully feigned bending over”. When he was “pinged” and ordered to isolate by the NHS app, he couldn’t resist coming into our office and peering over people’s shoulders. So a prime ministerial “puppy gate” was created with a row of chairs. “He’d kneel on the seats, his elbows propped over the top, like a great unruly golden retriever, howling for attention.”


This summer is all about “Second Wife energy”, says Emma Specter in Vogue. To be clear, the Second Wife isn’t a backup plan: she’s something simultaneously harder and breezier, “and (let’s just say it) hotter”. She’s the “bitch you hate” for breaking up your parents, but she doesn’t care – she’s thriving. The finest example is Meredith Blake from The Parent Trap (above). Yes, she’s objectively the film’s villain, and no, she’s not great with step-kids. But she’s a “steel-nerved, red-lipped, always immaculately clad nightmare” engaged to a hot guy who owns a vineyard. “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!”


You’d be amazed how often people fall asleep in court, says former Supreme Court Justice Simon Brown in The Oldie. Lord Denning, for instance, would always nod off for a few minutes at 3pm on the dot. “He’d then wake up sharper than ever.” In one case, a counsel told a judge that a juror was asleep. “So he is,” Judge Pickles remarked. “Well, Mr Green, you put him to sleep, so you’d better wake him up again!” Brown’s strongest memory of snoring in court is, however, a personal one. “Regrettably it emanated from my elderly father,” he says, “on the single occasion he came to court to witness his son’s forensic brilliance.”


It’s the Lulo Rose, an ultra-rare pink diamond found in Angola. At 170 carats, it may be the largest pink stone recovered in 300 years. Fancy coloured diamonds, which are rarer than normal colourless ones, can fetch massive prices. In April, the De Beers’ Cullinan blue diamond was auctioned for around £48m at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.


quoted 29.7.22

“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us someone may be looking.”

American journalist HL Mencken