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Tory defects The leading Conservative Ivan Massow defected to Labour, branding William Hague's party intolerant and "just plain nasty". The millionaire businessman, who is openly gay, said that he found it impossible to remain a member of a party that lacked inclusiveness.

The day the bank sank Barclays Bank shut down its entire internet banking service after a security blunder enabled customers to gain access to the account details of other users. The bank said that the problem had arisen after a new computer system malfunctioned, and it admitted that the breakdown in security was "unacceptable".

Petrol problems . . . Motorists were asked to join in a nationwide boycott of petrol stations as part of a protest against rising fuel prices. Response to the campaign was patchy, with more customers in the north responding to the cry to "Dump the Pump".

Wild party The European Court of Human Rights overturned a ruling against a gay Englishman who had been convicted for taking part in and filming a gay group sex party at his home. Deeming the British verdict an infringement of his privacy, the court ruled that UK law on gross indecency must be changed.

Surprise vote Moshe Katsav, a little-known member of the right-wing Likud Party, was elected eighth president of Israel. He beat the eminence grise Shimon Peres, who lost out in the Knesset vote by 57-63. The vote was a blow to the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, who had backed Peres.

Cancer gene therapy success A new genetically modified virus was discovered. In combination with conventional chemotherapy, it shrank neck and head cancer tumours in 85 per cent of tests carried out. In eight out of ten cases, the tumours disappeared completely. After recent setbacks for gene therapy, these results were hailed as a major breakthrough.

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