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Why the Sun’s “Halal Secret of Pizza Express” isn’t a secret at all

This morning, the paper has splashed with a story about the chain serving halal chicken, but having been reported last year and detailed on the Pizza Express website, it’s already in the public domain. 

The Sun has ended up with egg on its face with its splash this morning, claiming to reveal exclusively that the restaurant chain Pizza Express serves only halal chicken. 

But there’s just one thing (aside from the ludicrously alarmist tone of a story conjured up to give diners a slice of Islamophobia): it’s not a secret.

The Guardian reported last year that Pizza Express uses halal-approved chicken, as did the Independent, which reported: “Restaurant chains that are changing their menus include Pizza Express, which uses only halal chicken.”

And the chain itself, in the FAQs on its website, says:

All our restaurants serve pork, beef and chicken. All our chicken is Halal approved but it is important to note that all birds are stunned before being slaughtered. Our chicken supplier is accredited by the British Retail Consortium. This means it meets the global standard for food safety and legality. 

So to vaguely rephrase the old dilemma: which came first, the halal chicken in the Sun, or the truth, everywhere else?

Well, at least we know where the egg ended up. 

I'm a mole, innit.

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Lord Geoffrey Howe dies, age 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.