7 Days

Tributes to Dando The Queen, Tony Blair and Jack Straw paid tribute to the work of the TV presenter Jill Dando, who was shot dead on her doorstep in London. Police believe Dando may have been killed by a hitman in revenge for her work on the BBC programme Crimewatch.

Students convicted Two college students, Graham Wallis and Neil Sayers, faced the prospect of life imprisonment after being convicted of the murder of their friend, Russell Crookes. The attack took place last May in the woods at Hadlow College, Kent, where all three men were students. Mr Justice Newman delayed sentencing to allow him to study the implications of the case "for society at large".

Holiday in space Peter Llewellyn, a Welsh-born businessman who lives in America, agreed to pay $100 million for a week-long visit to Mir, the Russian space station. Energia, the company that runs the space station, hopes the money will give Mir an extended life. Little is known about Llewellyn and some newspapers believe his proposal could be a hoax.

False emergency Passengers on a London-bound British Airways flight from San Francisco were mistakenly told that their plane would make an emergency landing in the Atlantic Ocean. Two people suffered trauma following the incident.

Well-planned murder The diary of a boy who took part in the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado showed the teenagers had been planning the massacre for a year.

Brian Cathcart, who wrote a weekly series of columns for the New Statesman on the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, was a runner-up in the Commission for Racial Equality Race in the Media Awards, 1998. The judges described his columns as "literate, concise and descriptive"; they "accurately captured the importance of the Lawrence inquiry and its significance for race relations".

This article first appeared in the 03 May 1999 issue of the New Statesman, The NS Essay - This country is not so special