7 Days

Rape convictions plummet A report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Inspectorate for the Crown Prosecution Service revealed that only one in 13 allegations of rape ends in a conviction.

Vouchers abolished The controversial voucher scheme for asylum-seekers, which abolished cash payments for those seeking refuge, is to be replaced. Cash payments are being reintroduced.

Arms destroyed The IRA has, for the second time, decommissioned some of its weaponry. The move was welcomed by both Irish and British governments, but was rejected by Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party as an empty political gesture designed to "squeeze more concessions out of the British government".

Saddam oil threat In a show of support for the Palestinian people, Saddam Hussein announced a ban of Iraqi oil exports for a month or, alternatively, until Israeli troops withdraw from all occupied territories. The embargo, which threatens to destabilise further the already volatile world oil market, will halt the export of one-sixth of the world's oil supply.

Peer's payout Lord Kimball, the pro-hunting vice-president of the Countryside Alliance, agreed to pay Karen Fletcher, his former housekeeper, £5,000 compensation for her unfair dismissal. Fletcher, who is a vegan, claimed she was treated like a "Victorian servant", and said she will give the money to an animal rights group.

Youth crime One in four boys aged 15 and 16 carries a weapon, according to a study of 14,000 teenagers carried out by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. One in four 13- and 14-year-olds regularly indulges in binge drinking.

Bart sued The Rio de Janeiro tourist board threatened to sue the makers of The Simpsons for portraying the Brazilian city as full of bisexual men, aggressive street monkeys and semi-naked TV presenters.

This article first appeared in the 15 April 2002 issue of the New Statesman, Who does he think he is?